For decades, successive governments of Jamaica have been grappling with issues related to drug demand and supply reduction in the country. Many strategies and attempts have been made to eradicate this blight or at least lessen this phenomenon within the Jamaican society – efforts which have increased Jamaica’s economic cost burden. The added economic burden on Jamaica attributed to illicit drug consumption and alcohol abuse results not only from the cost incurred to implement and maintain strategies to reduce the demand of illegal drugs, but also includes loss of productivity through illnesses, injuries, death and incarceration associated with drug and alcohol misuse. There is, however, a dearth of information regarding the actual value of the economic burden attributed to drug demand activities in Jamaica.
This Study purposed to breach this gap in availability of cost information, using a quantitative research methodology which utilized both primary and secondary data from key sectors/stakeholders to estimate the economic cost of substance abuse in the country. A
questionnaire was designed to capture relevant information from the health, law enforcement and justice sectors, and administered to stakeholders in these sectors. The Cost of Illness (COT) approach was applied to data collected to arrive at an estimate of the economic cost.
The economic cost arrived at in relation to Jamaica’s substance abuse problem and efforts at drug demand reduction may be said to be quite conservative. This is so described as pertinent information from key stakeholders such as private drug abuse rehabilitation/treatment facilities and the Jamaica Drug Courts were not had. The findings reveal that in total, the economic cost of substance abuse to Jamaica in 2010 was approximately J$3,632,139,180 or US$41,748,726. This includes costs of activities
geared at illicit drug demand reduction as well as medical expenses and the value of lost productivity and lives as a result of substance abuse.