Subjects: Behavioral health
In a first-of-its-kind effort to assess total social costs of methamphetamine abuse, the RAND corporation pegged 2005 costs at $23.4 billion, which puts it in the same league as heroin.
Government surveys indicate that about 1% of the US population at least 12 years of age uses the drug at least once in a given year. That’s much higher than heroin and fully half that of cocaine.
About 400,000 of these are addicted to the drug, and more and more smoke it rather than swallowing or snorting it. Smoking offers a faster, more intense high and it’s more likely to foster addiction.
Meth abuse used to be a problem for Hawaii and the rural West and South, but it’s been catching on in the East and Midwest.
RAND scientists estimated methamphetamine directly caused 900 deaths in 2005, and that social costs associated with this premature mortality were $4 billion.
The scientists then added $4.2 billion for costs associated with crime, $900 million in foster care costs secondary to parents’ addiction, nearly $700 million in productivity losses, $550 million for rehab costs and $350 million in health care costs.
They threw in $60 million for morbidity and mortality associated with exploding meth labs and toxic waste clean-up, and then added $12.6 billion in estimated costs for things like the burden imposed by addicts on friends, families and children that don’t end up in foster care.
The calculation can be found here.