Total social cost of illegal substances at 0.33% of 2016 GDP , study shows

A study conducted by Cyprus National Addictions Authority ( NACC) showed that the total social cost of illegal substances for 2016 stood at 0.33% of Cyprus’ GDP or Euros 60 million.

The study carried out by Insights Market Research IMR of Nicosia University, on behalf of NACC, was presented during a press conference on Tuesday.

This is the second phase of the research of NACC and the term social cost refers to the cost imposed on a society as a result of the phenomenon of illegal substance use. This includes treatment and prevention costs, law enforcement costs, loss of income and productivity decline.

Head of NACC Dr. Chrysanthos Georgiou in a brief address said that the results of this study provide the Authority with the necessary feedback in order to further explore the resources that are available in effectively tackling the phenomenon.He said that the policies and strategies to be implemented need to be targeted and well designed with the use of all appropriate tools.

Dr. Georgiou further pointed out that the results of this survey will help the Authority to identify potential gaps and work with all actors involved in better shaping a strategy on the matter.

ConstantinosPhellas, the Vice Rector for Faculty and Research at the University of Nicosia in his speech said that in dealing with the use of illegal substances and addressing the causes, we must follow different structures, different attitudes and different perceptions. He said that collective efforts are needed in order to shape a better strategy especially among the youth.

Based on the results, the total social cost is 60,582,792 euro for 2016, while expenditure on prevention and research on illegal substances was reduced. The overwhelming majority of social spending, namely 76.3%, relates to law enforcement costs.

The survey also showed an increase of 90% of total social costs compared to a 2006 survey. The direct cost related to the Police and namely the Drud Law Enforcement Unit was 83.2%, the Prison Department 11.2%, the Legal Service 2, 3%, the Judicial Authorities 1.7%, the State Laboratory 1.1% and the Customs Department 0.5%.

The indirect cost of income and productivity losses is 12.5%, or 7,586,853 euro.

The research has shown that direct deaths from the use of substances have an indirect cost of 32% in loss of income and productivity. For prisoners this amounts to 64% and to those hospitalized 4%. Direct healthcare costs are 7.4% or Euros 4.471.881 and direct law enforcement costs to 76.3% or Euros 46.223.121.

Public spending on prevention and research amounted to 79.2% and for NGOs 20.3%.

The survey was conducted between December 2017-August 2018. The aim was to provide updated data on the costs of illegal substances as the previous research was made in 2006. The study also provides an assessment of the existing prevention policies and strategies but also makes comparisons to studies done in other EU member states.

Source: Cyprus News Agency