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Drug abuse costs rival those of chronic diseases, report says

By Carol Cratty, CNN
  • Costs related to drug abuse were more than $193 billion in 2007
  • The study scrutinized the costs of illegal and pharmaceutical drug abuse

Washington (CNN) -- Illicit drug use cost the U.S. economy an estimated $193 billion in 2007 -- a figure that comes close to the annual costs related to diabetes and other chronic diseases, according to a government study released Thursday by the National Drug Intelligence Center.

The report looked at the most recent year in which data was available and examined expenses associated with crime, health and medical treatment, and lost productivity related to the use of illegal drugs and the abuse of pharmaceuticals.

Michael Walther, the center's director, said the $193 billion price tag "reveals that this nation's drug problem is on par with other health problems." The study cited a 2008 report on the cost of diabetes which put the yearly tally for that disease at an estimated $174 billion. The report also made a comparison to a smoking study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention covering 1995 to 1999, which said smoking led to at least $157 billion a year in health costs.

The drug study looked at expenses involving the use of marijuana, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines and improper use of several categories of prescription drugs, including tranquilizers and pain relievers. The report did not cover the use of alcohol or inhalants.

The report, called The Economic Impact of Illicit Drug Use on American Society, was prepared for the Office of National Drug Control Policy.