The controversial war on drugs not only costs a lot, it has done almost nothing to curb the drug addiction rate since 1970, according to this stunning chart by documentary filmmaker Matt Groff comparing the cost of drug control to the drug addiction rate. Groff used the rate of addiction to illicit drugs from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, pairing it with federal drug control budget spending numbers from the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy.
Groff, who made the chart for his new documentary on the drug war The 1315 Project, says that it shows the costly war on drugs simply isn't working. A note: The numbers on this chart alone don't add up to $1.5 trillion, which represents a more inclusive count of drug control spending, with prison costs and state level costs determined by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, but instead to $800 billion. Groff included that $1.5 trillion because the chart appears in the documentary as a source discusses that more complete amount.
As you can see, while the blue illicit drug addiction rate line has remained relatively steady at about 1.3 percent, the green line for drug control spending has skyrocketed. The increased spending did not correlate to lower addiction rates. "Drug use and abuse exists on a spectrum and as a society we must accept that some portion of the population will be addicted to drugs even if we don’t like it," Groff says.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.