determining specific costs was beyond the committee’s charge, funding levels provided to NIDA for data and research on treatment may serve as an instructive example.
In sum, the committee recommends a four-part approach for improving data and research on drug law enforcement: (1) development of new data collection systems on illegal drug consumption and the price of illegal drugs, (2) support for strengthening the empirical foundations of systems research, (3) support for research on the effectiveness of enforcement policy aimed at drug users, and (4) establishment of an infrastructure to facilitate the work.
The committee was asked to review the entire range of data and research that might inform policy on illegal drugs. The discussion above identifies the most obvious shortcomings of the present portfolio. Existing programs that monitor the prevalence of drug use and those that study treatment and prevention receive more resources and are therefore further developed. Still, the committee makes a number of major recommendations whose implementation should further strengthen the nation’s data and research on illegal drug use and policy. We arrived at these recommendations through a review of selected data collection systems and research literature and through analysis that revealed limitations in present knowledge.
The committee examined the four major systems that collect annual data on large samples to monitor patterns and trends in drug use in the United States. Two of these, the National Household Survey of Drug Abuse (NHSDA) and Monitoring the Future (MTF), are national surveys based on probability samples of known populations, respectively: people who live in households and people who attend schools. The two other data systems sample events rather than people: arrests in the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring program (ADAM) and emergency room visits and some deaths in the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN). We draw several conclusions regarding data gaps and the need to improve these programs.
First, the committee concludes that the subpopulations established by research to be at highest risk for drug abuse that causes serious harm— people in prisons and jails, hospitals, residential treatment centers, homeless people, and school dropouts—are not adequately covered by any of these four surveys. The committee recommends that methods be devel-