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Abstract

This report considers the current feasibility of constructing an estimate of the global cost of drug use. While national estimates exist for seven developed countries, most countries have yet to construct a comprehensive estimate. Furthermore, it is impossible to compare the existing national estimates because of differences in the construction, which may reflect varying political and social environments that influence the nature of use and its related harms.

This report lays out a conceptual framework for initiating the construction of country-specific estimates in a fashion that would facilitate cross-national comparisons. It demonstrates the difficulty in trying to implement this framework using existing data, as current data available in the various countries suffer from inconsistencies in definitions, coverage, and measurement. The pitfalls and assumptions necessary to construct a comparable estimate using existing data, therefore, are quite significant.

We conclude that it is not possible at this time to develop a meaningful comparative estimate of the cost of drug use across countries. We believe, however, that steps could be taken to improve the consistency of measurement in many of the indicators in future years through coordinated international efforts, not unlike that currently being undertaken by the EMCDDA for the European Community.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Review of national studies of the cost of drug abuse

  • Chapter Three

    A process for constructing a global estimate of the burden of illicit drug use

  • Chapter Four

    Difficulties in constructing a global estimate: the need for further refinement

  • Chapter Five

    Determining the unit cost of drug-related harms

  • Chapter Six

    Conclusions

Research conducted by

This study has been produced by the Trimbos Institute and RAND with the financial support of the Commission of the European Communities. The research described in this report was conducted by RAND Europe.

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