What Are the Costs of Drug Abuse to Society?

Syringe and Pills
Drug Use Costs Soar in the U.S. © Getty Images

Question: What Are the Costs of Drug Abuse to Society?

Answer: The estimated cost of drug abuse in the United States - including illegal drugs, alcohol and tobacco - is more than $768 billion a year. Substance abuse in the U.S. costs society in increased health care costs, crime, and lost productivity.

The costs related to each type of drug include:

  • Tobacco: $326 Billion
    Total economic cost of smoking annually includes nearly $170 billion in direct medical costs for adults and more than $156 billion in lost productivity due to premature death and exposure to secondhand smoke.
  • Alcohol Abuse: $249 Billion
    Binge drinking accounts for $191 billion of the total cost to society for excessive alcohol consupmption. The taxpayers foot the bill for more than $100 billion of those costs.
  • Illegal Drug Abuse: $193 Billion
    The Department of Justice says the economic costs of illicit drug use in the United States is comparable to the costs of diabetes, which a 2008 government study said cost more than $174 billion each year.

The total costs to society for substance abuse goes beyond the financial costs, other costs include:

Back to: Drug Abuse FAQ


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Smoking & Tobacco Use." Fast Facts Updated 14 February 2014

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Excessive Drinking Costs U.S. $223.5 Billion." CDC Features. Updated 17 October 2013.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. "Frequently Asked Questions." The Science of Drug Abuse and Addiction Accessed Feb. 2014.

U.S. Department of Justice. "The Economic Impact of Illicit Drug Use on American Society." National Drug Intelligence Center 15 April 2003

Continue Reading