featured image drugs

The Drug War’s Impact on the American Economy

The Drug War's Impact on the American Economy

The Drug War’s Impact on the American Economy

America’s and the world’s appetite for drugs is insatiable. Billions upon billions of dollars have been spent on both the consumption of illicit drugs and fighting the war on drugs.

At first glance as an investor, you probably don’t think this affects you (that is, if you don’t use or sell drugs). But a closer look will reveal the enormous economic impact that the war on drugs has on America. Prepare yourself for some very alarming numbers.

Since 1971, the United States has spent $1,000,000,000,000 on the war on drugs. If you have a hard time reading that enormous number, it’s 1 TRILLION dollars! There are an estimated 500,000 inmates incarcerated for drug related charges. At an annual cost of $25,000 per inmate, that equates to $12.6 billion a year. America spends 58% less money to educate a child than it does to keep an inmate behind bars. The next generation (who will be future consumers) is suffering and is being heavily disadvantaged.

On the consumption side, the numbers are just as incredible. The estimated annual value of the cocaine market is $88 billion. For Heroin, it is $55 billion. The average cocaine addict will spend $25,000 per year to fuel their habit and the average heroin addict will spend $18,000.

These massive sums of money could be spent on much more productive things. The USA has been struggling financially for years now, to the point where a major city like Detroit had to declare bankruptcy. The enormous amount of money that is spent untaxed on drugs is mind boggling, and the large majority of it goes out of the country. Can you imagine if these wasted dollars could be used to fuel its growth or pay back its astronomical debt?

The first step of rehab is to admit there is a problem. Spending over a trillion dollars and incarcerating hundreds of thousands is definitely that. The next step is finding a way to solve it – we’re open to ideas.

Source: Rehabs.com

  • Jeff Berwick

    Or just decriminalize all “drugs” and all of this would stop. The problem is the “war on drugs”, not the “drugs”


      Well, the drugs are a problem too, but not really one the government is equipped to wage war on.

  • RetiredinLiveOak

    To all those that want to decriminalize all drugs are you stupid do you know what drugs do to your bodys and over all health. If you don’t care about your health, you should think about your childrens health and mental well being drug user produce children with health problems and mental learning problem and mental problems and its the truth. You are making victims of your children and it needs to stop ! Its like an aids patient deliberately infecting some one it should be considered criminal !

    • Argyle

      The question is not whether drugs are harmful, but rather if the government should have the ability to criminalize drugs. Criminalizing drugs has done more harm to this country than legalizing will ever do. If your worried about your kids getting drugs, learn to be a better parent.

  • Torch1952

    Do you know what a 17.5 Trillion debt is doing to your children and their grandchildren as I type? What did the children and their grandchildren get for the 1 Trillion spent on the drug war? Zip, Zero, Nada. The government’s addiction to spending on it’s own growth is a threat children face that is far greater than drugs.

    • supersajin

      nation debt is an illusion

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  • MeMadMax

    Big numbers, yes.
    But what the government is spending is just a drop in the bucket compared to other things.
    Hell, we spend more on NASA, and NASA begs for more money all the time…

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  • These numbers are interesting but they are way off base. The Heroin and cocaine numbers are probably pretty close. The cost of the Drug War since 1971 in America per decade is between 750 billion dollars and 2 trillion dollars. The number of global users probably exceeds 300 million people and you haven’t even mentions the most dangerous addicts in this drug war circus. A drug War NAZI is a greater threat to America than an addict, literally almost any addict.

    The truth is, illegal drugs really don’t kill a lot of people and depending on the illegal drug, most are not as dangerous as their legal alternative. That is right, most black market drugs have a legal alternatve and the principle of substitution applies.

    Your drug war is crap, a swindle, a corrupt war against American citizens for profit. It is one fucked up POS that needs to be taken out and shot. Drug War Rehab will be ugly when this country goes bankrupt feeding this corrupt circus.

  • Rusty Brown in Canada

    For the record:

    a woman of distinguished courage or ability, admired for her brave deeds and noble
    qualities. 2. the principal female character in a story, play, film, etc.

    commonly known by its street names of H, smack, horse, brown, black, tar, and others, is an opioid…

    • Sukhdip Basra

      Thanks for the catch, Rusty.



  • OldVet

    Great website. Missing in your drug charts are iatrogenic deaths (100,000 a year for drugs), namely doctor caused deaths by ‘properly prescribed’ drugs, also the short lifespans of M.D.s because of overtaxed livers due to self medication, and also the profits from big pharma. Also missing are the deaths in Mexico due to the drug war, more than American lost in the Viet Nam war.
    Seems like many habits begin, not just from the street corner drug pusher, but from docs who by the way are not pharmacists, who are influenced by big pharma reps.
    There is a continuity between the ‘medical system’ and the drug war. BTW look up Johann Hari’s book Chasing the Scream. A history of the drug war like no other.

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