Is the "War on Drugs" effective?

Is the "War on Drugs" effective?

How much are we spending on the "War on Drugs?"

Is the “War on Drugs” working? Has the “War on Drugs” in fact lowered the amount of drug use among the United States population?

The quick answer is “no.”


I just came across a handy infographic from “The Atlantic” which demonstrates that the “War on Drugs” is not working as well as the government had hoped. During the years between 1970 and 2010, the drug addiction rate in the United States actually rose to just above one percent of the population. The United States’ federal government spending for the “War on Drugs” has increased dramatically, but without any results. 

The total depicted on the chart represents an all-inclusive cost of $1.5 trillion, courtesy of the United States tax payer. The money spent also includes additional costs which relate to incarceration costs. The current drug rate of the United States population is around 1.3 percent.


The chart and the statistics on the chart was completed by Matt Groff, who used information from the United States Department of Health and Human Services to compile the information pictured above. 


Had the money spent actually impacted the drug addiction rates in the United States, there might not be so much criticism about the “War on Drugs.” Unfortunately, the money does not seem to be making a dent in the amount of drug use within the United States.


Others believe that the numbers on the chart are actually low in comparison to what the numbers actually are. This POST claims that the United States federal government spends $56 billion per year on drug spending and $48 billion at the state and local levels. 


The implications of the figures indicated are enormous. Either the money is being misspent, the War on Drugs complete waste of time, or more attention needs to be given to new drug addiction problems in today’s world.  


I don’t have the exact figures in front of me on how much money is spent on stopping drugs coming in from countries like Columbia versus how much money is being spent on combating addictions to crystal meth and prescription medications.


As the drugs change, the strategies need to be change. I also don’t believe that spending millions of dollars on marijuana enforcement is a cost-effective measure given the extremely lean budgets that all levels of government are facing.