Measuring the Cost of Drug Abuse

Close up of young people taking and tasting white pills

In 2016 the Ministry of Health published the first NZ Drug Harm Index.

It is an attempt to quantify the damage caused by illicit drugs along three axies: personal harm, community harm and social cost.

At first it may seem rather cold to see the findings presented in simple dollar terms. However, if you read the methodology behind the calculations you’ll find this becomes a useful scale.  Those who want to evaluate programmes and interventions will see in-depth information.

“Community harms were the largest single category of social cost at $892.7 million, followed by personal harms at $601.0 million.  In third was the cost of interventions at $351.4 million.”

Consequently, the social cost of drug use was estimated at $33,800 per year for dependent users.  For casual users the cost is $2,300 per year.”  For the first time, the cost to family and friends was also calculated, with the total placed at $438 million.

The report contains information about the comparative harm of different drugs and the economic effects that follow using illicit drugs;  for example crime, criminal investment and, tax avoidance.

You can download the Drug Harm Index 2016 here. If you are interested in developing a workplace drug and alcohol policy, WorkSafe has some useful suggestions here or if you need further assistance call the office on 04 499 0710 or ">email us.


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