Congressional Briefing - July 13, 2009

The Economic Cost of Methamphetamine Use in the United States

dirty fingers hold small bag of meth crystals

In cooperation with the Congressional Caucus to Fight and Control Methamphetamine


Rosalie Liccardo Pacula, RAND Corporation


Monday, July 13, 2009


1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.


2247 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C.

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About the Program

Curbing methamphetamine (meth) use has been an issue that Congress has been working hard to address. Meth has become a major drug of abuse in many states, as indicated by law enforcement priorities, substance abuse-related emergency room visits, and treatment admissions. Recent congressional action includes (1) adding provisions to curb meth use, trafficking, and production to the PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 and (2) passing the Methamphetamine Remediation Research Act of 2007, which addresses how the illicit use and manufacturing of meth endangers children.

To further assess the scope of the meth problem in the United States, RAND conducted the first comprehensive national assessment of the annual economic burden posed by meth use. Study findings and recommendations include the following:

  • The economic cost of methamphetamine use in the United States reached $23.4 billion in 2005.
  • Most of the expenses result from death of meth users and from crime and criminal justice costs.
  • Many costs of meth use are intangible and cannot yet be adequately measured.
  • More work is needed to identify areas in which intervention to reduce meth use could prove the most cost-effective.

About the Speaker

Rosalie Liccardo Pacula is codirector of the RAND Drug Policy Research Center and a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Her research has focused on evaluating state and local policies aimed at diminishing substance abuse among youths; the impact of marijuana decriminalization and medicalization on youth marijuana use and markets; youth access laws and their enforcement on smoking; the impact of higher cigarette and alcohol prices on the demands for illicit substances; and the cost-benefit of school-based drug prevention programs. Pacula is currently serving a five-year appointment on the Health Services Research Subcommittee of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), which is responsible for providing scientific review of grants submitted to NIDA that involve a health services component. Pacula received her Ph.D. from Duke University.

RAND Office of Congressional Relations

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Further Inquiries

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