Office of National Drug Control Policy

ONDCP Excel One Hundred Tenth Row

Action Item Number: 
Action Item Name: 
Develop and Implement Measures of Drug Consumption
Action Item Description: 

Economic analyses of drug use and drug markets are essential to assessing the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of drug control policies and programs.

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Yet the two most critical variables needed to assess the impact of drug policy are lacking: (1) how much of the commodity of interest (drugs) is consumed and (2) its price (for a discussion of drug prices, see item 1D above). Consumption refers to the amount of the substance consumed over a given period of time. Prevalence—the measure of drug use currently available—is the proportion of the population who use drugs in a given period (e.g., the past week, month, or year). None of the existing government surveys provides a reliable and direct estimate of the total amount of drugs consumed by Americans; such surveys may not be the most appropriate method for obtaining consumption estimates due to the difficulty of reliable respondent recall. Finally, even if these two essential data elements were available nationally, they need to be available at the community level if they are to be useful in local policy development and assessment. ONDCP, SAMHSA, NIDA, NIJ, and BJS will work together to identify approaches to estimating drug consumption nationally and at the community level, determine whether any of the identified approaches are feasible, and, if so, work to implement a sound approach.

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