59 Drug-Related Crime Statistics & Facts

Drug-related crimes are a significant problem in our society. The impact of these crimes extends beyond the individual who commits them, affecting families, communities, and the criminal justice system.

Published On

November 23, 2023

Looking For Drug-Related Crime Statistics?

Drug-related crimes are a significant problem in our society. The impact of these crimes extends beyond the individual who commits them, affecting families, communities, and the criminal justice system. Here are 39 drug-related crime statistics that shed light on the scope of this issue.

Top 10 Key Drug-Related Crime Statistics:

  1. Over 1.5 million drug-related arrests were made in the United States in 2019 alone.
  2. Drug offenses accounted for over 20% of all arrests made in the country in that same year.
  3. In 2020, an estimated 10.1 million people aged 12 or older misused opioids, including prescription pain relievers and heroin.
  4. The economic cost of drug misuse and addiction was estimated to be $740 billion in the United States in 2019.
  5. Drug overdose deaths have been increasing steadily since the early 2000s, with over 70,000 deaths reported in the US in 2019.
  6. About one-third of state prisoners and a quarter of federal prisoners serving time for drug offenses are incarcerated for drug possession rather than sales or trafficking.
  7. According to a survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), nearly half of all people arrested tested positive for at least one illegal substance.
  8. Marijuana remains the most commonly used illicit drug, with over four million people aged 12 or older reporting regular use in 2019.
  9. The opioid epidemic has had a devastating impact on families across the country, with approximately one baby born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) every fifteen minutes.
  10. Methamphetamine use has been on the rise in recent years, with meth-related overdose deaths increasing by more than five times between 2011 and 2018.

Drug-Related Crime Arrest and State Prison Admissions

  • In 2019, drug misuse violations arrests accounted for 1.6% of all arrests in the United States.
  • Over 80% of drug-related arrests in the US are for drug possession only.
  • Between 2007 and 2017, there was a 30% increase in drug-related arrests in the US.
  • In 2020, approximately 20% of state prisoners and over half of federal prisoners were serving time for drug offenses.
  • The number of people incarcerated for drug offenses has increased by more than ten times since the 1980s.
  • African Americans and Latinos are disproportionately represented among those incarcerated for drug offenses.
  • The rate of imprisonment for drug offenses is six times higher for African Americans than whites despite similar rates of drug use across races.
  • Approximately one in five state prisoners and one in three federal prisoners have been convicted of a nonviolent drug offense.

Drug Use and Crime Statistics

  • In 2019, over 1.5 million arrests were made for drug-related offenses in the United States.
  • According to a survey by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, over 50% of state prisoners and 40% of federal prisoners meet the criteria for drug dependence or misuse.
  • Drug-related illnesses and injuries cost the United States an estimated $740 billion each year in healthcare expenses, lost productivity, and crime-related costs.
  • In 2018, there were approximately 68,000 drug overdose deaths in the United States, with opioids being involved in nearly 70% of those deaths.
  • The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, with over 2.3 million people currently behind bars. Of these, about 450,000 are incarcerated for drug offenses.

Drug Trafficking Statistics

  • In 2019, the DEA seized over 2,100 kilograms of fentanyl, a 30% increase from the previous year.
  • In 2018, over 70,000 individuals died from drug overdoses, with fentanyl contributing to nearly 30,000 of those deaths.
  • Drug trafficking organizations earn an estimated $400 billion annually.
  • The number of individuals incarcerated for drug offenses in the U.S. has increased by 1,000% since 1980.

Drug-Related Violence Statistics

  • Over 20% of homicides in the U.S. are drug-related.
  • Drug-related violence costs the U.S. economy an estimated $100 billion annually.
  • Over 50% of all gang-related crimes involve drugs.
  • In 2019, Mexican drug cartels were responsible for over 38,000 murders.

Worldwide Drug-Related Crime Statistics

  • In the UK, drug-related deaths have been steadily increasing since 2012, with over 4,000 deaths reported in 2019.
  • The global drug trade is worth an estimated $321 billion annually.
  • In Australia, methamphetamine use has increased significantly in recent years, with the drug accounting for nearly half of all drug-related arrests in some states.
  • In Russia, drug misuse is a significant problem, with an estimated 8 million people using illegal drugs and over 100,000 deaths each year attributed to drug abuse.
  • In Mexico, drug cartels are responsible for a significant amount of violence and crime. Over 200,000 people have been killed in cartel-related violence since 2006.
  • In Canada, opioid overdose deaths have been on the rise in recent years. Over 16,000 Canadians died from opioid overdoses between January 2016 and December 2019.
  • In Brazil, drug trafficking is a major issue. The country is one of the largest producers of cocaine and other illicit drugs in the world.
  • In South Africa, drug misuse is widespread and often linked to violent crime. Gang violence related to the drug trade is also a major problem.
  • In China, synthetic drugs such as fentanyl have become increasingly popular among users. The country has also cracked down on drug offenses in recent years, resulting in thousands of arrests and executions.
  • In India, opium production remains a significant issue. The country accounts for approximately half of the world's legal opium production but also struggles with illegal opium cultivation and trafficking.

Drug-Related Crime by Race

  • African Americans and Latinos are disproportionately represented among those incarcerated for drug offenses.
  • The rate of imprisonment for drug offenses is six times higher for African Americans than whites despite similar rates of drug use across races.
  • In 2019, Black individuals were over three times more likely to be arrested for a drug offense than White individuals in the United States.
  • Native Americans are also disproportionately affected by drug-related crime. They have the highest rate of overdose deaths among all racial and ethnic groups in the country.
  • According to a recent study, Black Americans are more likely to be sentenced to longer prison terms than white Americans for the same drug offenses.

Opioid Epidemic Statistics

  • Over 11 million individuals misused prescription opioids in 2019.
  • Over 130 Americans die each day from opioid overdoses.
  • In 2019, nearly 10 million individuals misused prescription sedatives or tranquilizers.
  • The economic cost of the opioid epidemic is estimated to be over $500 billion.

Marijuana-Related Crimes Statistics

  • Over 500,000 individuals are arrested for marijuana-related offenses each year.
  • Marijuana-related offenses account for over 40% of all drug-related arrests in the U.S.
  • In 2019, over 350,000 individuals were arrested for marijuana possession alone.
  • The number of individuals incarcerated for marijuana offenses has increased by over 400% since 1980.

Methamphetamine Statistics

  • In 2019, over 13,000 individuals died from methamphetamine overdoses.
  • Methamphetamine use is associated with higher rates of violent crime.
  • The number of individuals seeking treatment for methamphetamine addiction has increased by over 500% since 2007.
  • Methamphetamine seizures at the U.S.-Mexico border have increased by over 1,000% since 2008.

Cocaine Statistics

  • In 2019, over 14,000 individuals died from cocaine overdoses.
  • Cocaine use is associated with higher rates of violent crime.
  • The number of individuals seeking treatment for cocaine addiction has increased by nearly 40% since 2011.
  • The number of cocaine seizures at the U.S.-Mexico border has increased by over 150% since 2014.

Prescription Drugs Statistics

  • Prescription drug misuse costs the U.S. economy an estimated $78.5 billion annually.
  • Over 2 million individuals misused prescription stimulants in 2019.
  • Over 5 million individuals misused prescription pain relievers in 2019.
  • The number of individuals seeking treatment for prescription drug addiction has increased by over 33% since 2005.

Drug Courts Statistics

  • Drug courts reduce recidivism rates by 10-15%.
  • Drug courts save an estimated $3,000-13,000 per participant.
  • Over 3,100 drug courts operate in the U.S.
  • 75% of drug court graduates remain arrest-free for at least two years after graduation.

Drug Legalization and Decriminalization Statistics

  • In states where marijuana is legal, marijuana-related arrests have decreased by over 90%.
  • Portugal's decriminalization of drugs resulted in a decrease in drug-related deaths and HIV infections.
  • In the U.S., states that have decriminalized marijuana have seen a decrease in drug-related arrests and reduced racial disparities in drug-related arrests.

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