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Methamphetamine use cost the US about $23 billion in 2005, RAND study estimates
Date:2/3/2009

y two-thirds of the economic costs caused by methamphetamine use resulted from the burden of addiction and an estimated 900 premature deaths among users in 2005. The burden of addiction was measured by quantifying the impact of the lower quality of life experienced by those addicted to the drug.

Crime and criminal justice expenses account for the second-largest category of economic costs, according to researchers. These costs include the burden of arresting and incarcerating drug offenders, as well as the costs of additional non-drug crimes caused by methamphetamine use, such as thefts committed to support a drug habit.

Other costs that significantly contribute to the RAND estimate include lost productivity, the expense of removing children from their parents' homes because of methamphetamine use and spending for drug treatment.

One new category of cost captured in the analysis is the expense associated with the production of methamphetamine. Producing methamphetamine requires toxic chemicals that can result in fire, explosions and other events. The resulting costs include the injuries suffered by emergency personnel and other victims, and efforts to clean up the hazardous waste generated by the production process.

Researchers caution that their estimates are in some cases based on an emerging understanding of methamphetamine's role in these harms and should be further refined as understanding of these issues matures. The RAND report also identifies costs that cannot yet be adequately quantified.

"Estimates of the economic costs of illicit drug use can highlight the consequences of illegal drug use on our society and focus attention on the primary drivers of those costs," Nicosia said. "But more work is needed to identify areas where interventions to reduce these harms could prove most effective."

Methamphetamine is a highly addictive substance that can be taken orally, injected, snorted or smoked. While nation
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Contact: Warren Robak
robak@rand.org
310-451-6913
RAND Corporation
Source:Eurekalert

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