Understanding the costs of drug-related actions is an important aspect of the drug policy. Some of the funds allocated by governments for expenditure to tasks related to drugs are identified as such in the budget (‘labelled’). Often, however, most drug-related expenditure is not identified (‘unlabelled’) and must be estimated using modelling approaches.
In Italy, drug action plans do not have associated budgets. However, the methodology for estimating the social costs of drug use had been defined for some years and provided an estimate of drug-related public expenditure between 2009 and 2012.
In 2012, drug-related public expenditure was estimated at approximately 0.18 % of gross domestic product (GDP), indicating a gradual decline since 2010 (0.25 % of GDP in 2010 and 0.2 % of GDP in 2011). In 2012, the majority of total drug-related spending was for social care and healthcare.
In 2012, the social costs of drug use were estimated to represent 1 % of GDP, which was less than in 2011.
Several reasons for the reduction have been suggested, such as reduced spending by drug users to purchase illicit substances and a decline in public expenditure on drug-related initiatives.