Costs of Substance Abuse

Abuse of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs is costly to our Nation, exacting more than $740 billion annually in costs related to crime, lost work productivity and health care.**

  Health Care Overall Year Estimate Based On
Tobacco1,2 $168 billion $300 billion 2010
Alcohol3 $27 billion $249 billion 2010
Illicit Drugs4,5 $11 billion $193 billion 2007
Prescription Opioids6 $26 billion $78.5 billion 2013

Supplemental/References for Economic Costs

**Note: The overall cost of illicit drugs includes the misuse of prescription drugs, however the exact estimate for this category is not stated in the 2011 report4. A separate analysis of 2007 data5 estimated US costs of prescription opioid misuse at $55.7 billion. The most recent estimate of prescription opioid misuse, based on 2013 data, updated this cost to $78.5 billion, an increase of more than $20 billion per year compared to six years ago.  Taken together, with the growing misuse of opioids and related health consequences, the cost estimates for illicit drug use in the US are likely to have risen substantially since the last available estimate in 2007.

  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress. A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health; 2014. www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/reports/50-years-of-progress/full-report.pdf (PDF, 38MB)
  2. Xu X, Bishop EE, Kennedy SM, Simpson SA, Pechacek TF. Annual Healthcare Spending Attributable to Cigarette Smoking: An Update. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 2014;48(3):326–33 [accessed 2017 Feb 28].
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Excessive Drinking is Draining the U.S. Economy. https://www.cdc.gov/features/costsofdrinking/   Updated January 2016. Accessed April 21, 2017.
  4. National Drug Intelligence Center. National Drug Threat Assessment. Washington, DC: United States Department of Justice; 2011. www.justice.gov/archive/ndic/pubs44/44849/44849p.pdf(PDF, 8MB)
  5. Birnbaum, HG. et al. Societal Costs of Prescription Opioid Abuse, Dependence, and Misuse in the United States. Pain Medicine 2011; 12: 657-667.
  6. Florence, CS et al. The Economic Burden of Prescription Opioid Overdose, Abuse, and Dependence in the United States, 2013; Medical Care. Volume 54, Number 10, October 2016.