New report finds illicit drug demand reduction programs an economical investment

Today the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) has released a report which analysed the return on investment of programs designed to reduce the demand for illicit drugs.

The report found that, on average, demand reduction programs produce a return on investment of $5.40 for every dollar spent. AIC Director Michael Phelan said the report suggests that demand reduction programs are an economical way to reduce the use of illicit drug use that cause harm to our community.

“Last year we estimated that illicit drug activity was costing the Australian economy up to $16.5 billion dollars – a significant burden and money that could be better spent on education, healthcare and more.

“Demand reduction programs aim to prevent the uptake or delay the onset of illicit drug use, reducing illicit drug use in the community, and supporting people to recover from dependence through treatment,” Mr Phelan said.

The report found that law enforcement programs, those aimed at young people, and those that targeted multiple types of drugs, tended to have the highest return on investment.

The report reviewed 67 benefit-cost analyses of these types of programs in North America, Europe, Australia, Asia and South America. Eighty per cent of the programs reviewed indicated that savings to the community outweighed the cost of those programs.

The report is available on the Australian Institute of Criminology website.