New Stats Reveal the Latest Trends in Illicit Drug Usage


The drug market is a multi-billion dollar industry, with estimates of between $121 billion and $146 billion being spent in the United States alone between the years of 2006 and 2016. Illicit drugs such as heroin, cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamine are in high demand, and researchers say that the total spent on all these is comparable to spending on alcohol. An analysis just released by the Rand Corporation looks at the changing trends in the usage of these drugs.

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Analyzing the Usage of Illicit Drugs in the United States

Coming up with concrete figures on the number of drug users, frequency of use, and total spent on this industry is a major challenge. The illicit drug market does not operate in the open, for the most part, and there’s a lot of secrecy involved. Researchers must rely on a range of data sources, including surveys and drug overdose statistics. Nevertheless, doing such a study is important for a number of reasons. For one, this market has some negative consequences including drug addiction and overdose. This analysis is also helpful for public health officials and policy makers.

The stats show that the demand for cocaine is on the decline, with a reduction of over 50 percent in the billions spent in 2016 compared with 2006. The use of marijuana during the same period roughly doubled. This brought cocaine and marijuana spending in 2016 to $24 and $52 billion respectively.

Other trends revealed in the extensive analysis include an increase in marijuana uptake each month of 30%. This can be explained by the legalization of the drug for recreational purposes in around a quarter of U.S. states. The opioid crisis was also highlighted by the increase of heroine usage between 2010 and 2016. There was also a significant rise in methamphetamine usage in the same period. This is attributed to the improving purity in the drug coupled with the drop in its price.

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