Understanding the costs of drug-related actions is an important aspect of drug policy. Some of the funds allocated by governments for expenditure on tasks related to drugs are identified as such in the budget (‘labelled’). Often, however, the bulk of drug-related expenditure is not identified (‘unlabelled’) and must be estimated by modelling approaches.
In Belgium, the Federal Drug Policy Note of 2001 had no associated comprehensive budgets, while policy notes for some regions do have accompanying budgets. Prior to 2012, authorities funded three successive studies of drug-related public expenditure: for 2001, 2004 and 2008. In 2012, a specific study about the social costs of licit and illicit substances in Belgium was performed. Estimates were based on a well-defined methodology.
Estimates for 2012 indicate that total public expenditure for licit and illicit substances was 0.6 % of gross domestic product (GDP) or approximately EUR 2.3 billion, the majority of which was allocated to demand reduction (75.6 %). Approximately 75 % of the funds was spent on treatment, 0.5 % on prevention and 0.1 % on harm reduction. Supply reduction received 24.2 % of the funds, while coordination and research received 0.2 % and 0.1 %, respectively.
Public expenditure related to illicit drugs in Belgium
NBBased on estimates of Belgium’s direct expenditure for licit and illicit substances in 2012.