Filmmaker Matt Groff is raising money for a documentary film about the war on some drugs. A simple chart he created for the project has spread far and wide across the interwebs (at right) and Matt has been taken to task for the way the numbers add (or don’t add) up. He responds on his blog:
As the rough chart from my trailer has gone somewhat viral, I’ve started to get some questions on what it represents and I wanted to offer up some clarity on how it came about. The three questions that have arisen most often are the following: where does the 1.3% addiction rate statistic come from? How does this chart add up to $1.5 trillion? Does it make sense to use a relative measurement (addiction rate) with an absolute measurement (spending)?
Where does the 1.3% addiction rate statistic come from?
One of the challenges of evaluating America’s system of drug prohibition is tracking down and assembling the raw data that comes from various entities. Since I am are most interested in what has been done in the name of combatting illicit drugs, alcohol being perfectly legal and regulated, I’ve focused on the dependency rates solely for illicit drugs, ignoring dependency rates for both alcohol alone and alcohol + illicit drugs (as it stands to reason those dependencies would default to only alcohol in the absence of illicit drugs). What we find is a relatively constant 1.3% of Americans dependent on illicit drugs. Here you can see the data for 2002-2010 which shows approximately 1.3% of the population addicted to illicit drugs . Earlier data is difficult to find and link to online, though the National Survey on Drug Use and Health is the primary data source for this information…
[continues at Matt’s blog]