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Online ISSN: 1099-176X    Print ISSN: 1091-4358
The Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics
Volume 23, Issue 4, 2020. Pages: 139-149
Published Online: 1 December 2020

Copyright © 2020 ICMPE.


 

Estimation of the Social Costs of Illegal Drug Use in Poland Using Standardized Methodology

 

Zofia J. Mielecka-Kubień

Professor, Ph.D., University of Economics in Katowice, Department of Statistics, Econometrics and Mathematics, Katowice, Poland

* Correspondence to: Zofia Mielecka-Kubień, Professor, Ph.D., University of Economics in Katowice, Department of Statistics, Econometrics and Mathematics, 40-287 Katowice, ul.1-Maja 50, Poland.
Tel.: +48-604 411 070
E-mail: zofia.mielecka-kubien@ue.katowice.pl

Source of Funding: The study received direct financial support from the Gambling Problem Solving Fund of the National Bureau for Drug Prevention (Ministry of Health, Poland).

Abstract
The paper presents the results of the estimation of the basic social costs of illegal drug use in Poland in the year 2015 performed using standardized methodology proposed in the Guidance document to estimate social costs of illicit drugs, 2016. Additionally, a method to fill gaps in statistical data concerning the criminal justice system costs attributable to illegal drugs use is proposed. The results, presented in the standard way proposed in the guidelines, indicate that the total direct costs of illegal drug use in Poland in the year 2015 expressed in monetary terms amounted to EUR 135.67m, which constituted about 0.03% of Poland’s GDP in 2015. The highest costs were incurred by the criminal justice system (EUR 74.05m) and the health care system (EUR 44.42m). Estimated productivity costs attributable to premature mortality of illegal drug users and their absenteeism were equal to EUR 18.42m.


Background: Illegal drug use causes a variety of negative consequences for the society -- referred to as the social costs of illegal drug use -- and therefore they are estimated in many countries. The main purpose of social cost estimation is prevention or, at least, attenuation of the negative effects of illegal drug use.

Aims of Study: The main aim of the study was the estimation of the basic social costs of illegal drug use in Poland in the year 2015 with the use of standardized methodology and the standardized presentation of results, which can ensure better comparison of the costs between countries. The other aim of the study was to present a method to fill the gaps in statistical data concerning the criminal justice system costs attributable to illegal drugs use.

Method: Cost-of-illness (COI), human capital, and prevalence-based approaches were applied to costs estimation. The author proposed a method combining survey results with official statistical data, which allows for rough estimation of some of the criminal justice costs. Furthermore, the method for and the results of the estimation of mortality rates for drug users and non-users and their life expectation were presented.

Results: The results indicate that the total direct costs of illegal drug use in Poland in the year 2015 expressed in monetary terms amounted to EUR 135.67m, which constituted about 0.03% of Poland's GDP in 2015. The highest costs were incurred by the criminal justice system (EUR 74.05m) and the health care system (EUR 44.42m). Estimated productivity costs attributable to premature mortality of illegal drug users and their absenteeism were equal to EUR 18.42m. The mortality rates of drug users were much higher than those of non-users. The users could lose, on average, over 12 years of their expected life (men), and over 8 years (women).

Discussion: The social cost estimation performed in the study covers only basic costs and could be expanded in many ways. For several reasons, the estimated costs represent only the lower limit of the social costs of illegal drug use in Poland in 2015. Whenever it was possible the data were obtained from official statistical sources, but some information came from surveys, burdened with their usual weaknesses. In spite of certain shortcomings of statistical data, the use of standardized methodology and the standardized presentation of the results could ensure better comparison of the costs and their distribution between countries, which is especially needed in the EU countries.

Implications for Health Policies: The knowledge of the levels and distribution of the social costs of illegal drug use may help to improve health policies in individual countries as well as in the EU, especially when the costs are estimated in a similar way. Additionally, the dissemination of the information on the differences in the mortality rates and life expectation of illegal drug users and non-users may have a preventive effect on current and potential users.

Implication for Further Research: A number of important issues, for example ``harm to others'' costs, private costs, intangible costs, lifetime productivity costs, require further research.

Received 4 July 2020; accepted 9 August 2020

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