Substance Abuse

Information and statistics about substance abuse around the world. Statistics also includes drug addiction rates, drug trafficking information, and sales and prices of the illegal drug trade.

A survey from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that the US state of Vermont has the highest rate of illegal drug abuse in the country. 15 percent of residents of Vermont used an illicit drug within the past month when surveyed. In comparison, Utah had the lowest amount of drug use with 4.2 percent of its residents using an illegal drug.

13 percent of Vermont’s residents used marijuana.

Heroin us is also increasing in use and the price of the drug is increasing as well. A bag of heroin can cost $5 in large cities, but costs up to $30 in Rutland, Vermont.

(How much does heroin cost?)

Source:  Pamela Engel, “Why Vermont Has a Drug Problem,” Slate, October 13, 2013.

The United States saw its first reported cases of Krokodil in September 2013 in the state of Arizona. Several weeks later, there were 3 reported cases in the state of Illinois.

According to addiction doctors in Illinois, the price for a hit of krokodil is $8. Drug addicts use krokdil as a cheaper alternative to heroin, which can cost between $25 to 30 per hit.

(Costs of heroin by country.)

Source:  Brian Stanley, “Doctor: Flesh-eating ‘Crocodile’ drug surfaces in Will County,” Herald News, October 9, 2013.

Between 2006 and 2012, over 45 mayors have been killed and 30 have gone missing in Mexico. Security agencies attribute the killings to the work of drug cartels.

According to the National Confederation of Municipalities, organized crime activities threaten 40 percent of Mexico’s municipalities.

Source:  Dudley Althaus, “Mexico’s mayors are under the gangster gun,” Global Post, October 11, 2013.

There are over 1,500 islands around the coast of Panama in Central America. Drug traffickers utilize these islands in order to transport cocaine produced in South America. Traffickers bury the drugs on various islands and use it as a type of storage and transport point on its way towards the United States.

According to media reports, drug mules who bury the drugs and pass it along make up to $5,000 for each trip that the make to the islands to transport the drugs. The amount they make per trip is 10 times more than the amount that they would make working at a village shop in Panama.

(More under the table jobs.)

Source:  Irene Larraz, “Narco-Islands: Panama’s Drug Trafficking Paradise,” InSight Crime, September 30, 2013.

In October 2013, the administrator of the online black market Silk Road was arrested in the United States. Silk Road was a website that users were able to access using anonymizing browser  Tor. At the websites, customers would be able to purchase illegal drugs from vendors and have those drugs sent to their home address.

According to the affidavit by the FBI, the site cleared $1.2 Billion in sales in a two year period. The owner of the website is alleged to have made $80 Million in commissions.

There were 957,079 user accounts created on the website. Nearly 30 percent of the accounts were based in the United States, followed by accounts created in the United Kingdom.

Source:  Nick Allen, “First British Silk Road suspects arrested by new National Crime Agency,” Telegraph, October 8, 2013.


In the first half of 2013, 14 percent of cocaine being smuggled to the United States was trafficked through the Caribbean region, according to the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The cocaine being trafficked in the region was double the 7 percent in the first half of 2012.

DEA intelligence analysts report that 27 metric tons of cocaine was brought to the Dominican Republic, an increase from the 22 tons of cocaine it received in 2012.

The US territory of Puerto Rico is also seeing an increase in drug trafficking activity. In an example of the scope of the drug trade, police recently arrested a ring of 27 traffickers who were moving drugs from the Dominican Republic into the United States. The gang reportedly made over $100 Million in revenue.

The homicide rate in Puerto Rico was 30.5 per 100,000 in 2011, over six times the homicide rate of the mainland US. Nearly half of the murders committed in 2011 was drug related.

Security experts state that Puerto Rico is a key location in smuggling drugs into the United States.  Drugs are able to be smuggled into the mainland with less Customs inspections due to its status as a US territory.

Source:  Ezra Fieser, “DEA: Drug trafficking doubles in Caribbean,” Miami Herald, October 3, 2013.

According to data from the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, between 1990 to 2007 the price of illegal drugs sold in the United States went down while the purity and potency of the drug went up.

In a study released by the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy in Canada, researchers found that law enforcement action had no impact on the illegal drug market. Despite an estimated $1 Trillion spent combating illegal drugs, the study found that illegal drugs has become cheaper while the drugs have also become stronger.

Between 1990 and 2007, the price of heroin in the United States decreased by 81 percent. During the time period, the purity of heroin increased by 60 percent.

The price of cocaine dropped by 80 percent during the time period, while its purity increased by 11 percent.

And the price of marijuana decreased by 60 percent while the cannabis potency increased by 161 percent.

All prices were adjusted for inflation.

(How much does heroin cost?)

Source:  Dan Werb, Thomas Kerr, Bohdan Nosyk, Steffanie Strathdee, Julio Montaner, Evan Wood, “The temporal relationship between drug supply indicators: an audit of international government surveillance systems,” International Centre for Science in Drug Policy, September 30, 2013.

According to user submitted information, a gram of black tar heroin in the Northern California county of Stanislaus sells for $40 to $70 per gram, depending on the purity of the heroin.

The average purchase size of black tar heroin in the city is half a gram, which is sold for a flat rate of $25. Smaller units are also sold by dealers, with 0.2 grams being offered for $10 and 0.3 grams offered for $15.

(See additional heroin facts and statistics here.)

According to the recovering heroin addict who submitted the information, dealers have been known to sell “dimes”, which is 0.3 grams of high-purity black tar heroin for $10. These dealers would offer the drug at that price in order to get the customer hooked on the product. Once the customer became addicted, then the amount of heroin would drop back down to 0.2 grams for $10.

For larger purchases, an ounce (28.3 grams) can be bought for as low as $500 to as high as $1,500.

(How much does heroin cost on the black market?)

Source:  User submitted data to Havocscope, received on September 28, 2013.

As of September 2013, Health Canada reported that there were 37,359 patients who had medical marijuana licenses in Canada. Back in 2002, there were 477 licenses.

4,200 marijuana growers are authorized to produce marijuana. Each grower is only allowed to produce enough marijuana for two patients each.

Under contract with Health Canada, the price for medical marijuana in Canada in 2013 was $4.85 (5 CAD) per gram. On the street, the black market price of marijuana is between $9.72 to $14.56 (10 to 15 CAD).

(Price of marijuana on the black market.)

The Government of Canada estimates that by 2014, there will be 58,000 people who are approved to use medical marijuana. By 2024, the estimated number of patients is forecast to be 450,000.

Source:  Dean Beeby, “Facts and figures on changing medical marijuana rules in Canada,” CTV News, September 29, 2013.

The first cases of krokodil was reported in the United States in September 2013. Public heath programs in the state of Arizona identified two cases of the drug in September.

The official name of the chemical is desomorphine, and it was first identified in Russia in 2002. The drug is made with a mix of over-the-counter headache pills that is mixed with iodine, gasoline, paint thinner or alcohol. Users in Russia have been using the drug as a cheaper form of heroin, since krokodil costs three times as less.

(How much does heroin cost?)

The drug eats away at the user’s skin tissue, which causes the skin to run scaly and green like a crocodile, thus creating the nickname. In 2011, Buzzfeed had a post that showed the effects of krokodil on the body. (Warning: Extremely Graphic Photos.)

According to security services in Russia, the average lifespan of a krokodil user from the time they become addicted to the drug is 1 to 1.5 years. As of 2012, the rate of abuse of the drug is increasing by 50 to 70 percent each year in Russia. The value of the krokodil market in Russia was estimated to be worth $100 Million.

In the United States, the use of heroin has been increasing in recent years. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. the use of heroin in the US increased by 66 percent between 2007 and 2011. With krokodil being a cheaper form of heroin, the risks of the drug spreading throughout the United States is high.

Source:  Michael Winter, “Flesh-rotting ‘krokodil’ drug emerges in USA,” USA Today, September 26, 2013.