CICAD: Inter-American Observatory on Drugs (OID)

Costs Program


CICAD's Program to Estimate the Human, Social, and Economic Costs of Drugs in the Americas

At the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City in May 2001, the heads of state and government gave CICAD the task to "develop within the framework of CICAD, a mechanism to measure the human, social and economic costs of drug abuse." 

The purpose of the Costs Program is to develop a methodology that will provide a framework through which OAS member states can measure the economic impact that drug use has on their societies.  Its primary goal is to do this in a way that is both simple and economically feasible.  Originally, the strategy was to develop a series of inter-related projects that allow the countries to produce estimates on cost impact in a variety of social sectors, such as health, criminal justice, welfare, industry, and labor, enabling them to examine the impact of drugs in scientifically valid terms and use that knowledge to formulate sound, research-based policy.  Armed with specific cost data, countries can then make rational decisions about where to target scarce government resources. 

More importantly, by understanding where money is being invested and the costs related to those investments, decision makers can then devise strategies to reduce those costs.

Six countries (Barbados, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Mexico and Uruguay) participated in the pilot study. Subsequently, the governments of Argentina and Colombia joined the study group.

In the Hemispheric Strategy on Drugs (approved in May 2010) and its Plan of Action, renewed importance was placed on the scientific study of drug use and the evaluation of government policies and programs. The OID continues to work with national drug observatories, researchers and other international organizations to refine the methodology.

Latest Studies

Peru: Socio-Economic Impact of the Drug Trade (Estudio del Impacto Social y Económico del Consumo de Drogas en el Perú: Informe Final (2010, PDF, 785 kb, only available in Spanish) by the Observatorio Peruano de Drogas, DEVIDA

United States: The Economic Impact of Illicit Drug Use on American Society. Washington D.C.: United States Department of Justice (2011, PDF, 4.76 mb, 108 pp.). National Drug Intelligence Center publications.

Canada: The Costs of Substance Abuse in Canada 2002: Highlights (March 2006, PDF, 155 kb). Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse  Detailed report, 10 mb (zipped).

Original Project

Program Reports

Information Links

updated on 2/26/2013 3:25:30 PM