UN World Drug Report Tracks Global Price of Street Heroin

By John Lavitt 12/01/14

It probably comes as no surprise that the cost of street drugs like heroin is wildly divergent in different parts of the world.

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The 2014 UN World Drug Study tracks the price of street drugs, including heroin, on a global level. Despite the trade in heroin being a global business, access and cost fluctuate greatly around the world. Oscillations in international currency, changes in the cost and risk associated with transportation and distribution, and basic supply-and-demand trends affect the street cost of illegal drugs.

Since heroin, in particular, and illegal drugs as a whole lead to mass addiction, the amplification of poverty, and the promotion of organized crime, markets for such substances need to be monitored. To keep track of new developments, the United Nations tracks how much illegal drugs cost on the street around the world. As Jake Tri explains on DrugAbuse.com, “The cost of ‘getting high’ so to speak, is an inextricable part of the drug world, and plays at least some part in how people determine what substance to use.”

Heroin users in New Zealand live in a country that holds the top spot costing more than $806 per gram. Americans pay a high $228 per gram, while the drug is much cheaper in Europe: $45 in France, $55 in Germany, and $80 in Italy. Heroin also costs $80 per gram in Russia, but a staggering $625 in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia—the second highest price in the world. Strangely enough, you can buy a gram of heroin on the street in England for $63, but the same gram will cost you $193 in Ireland.

Although heroin is only $90 a gram in China, the drug costs an astounding $441 a gram in Japan. A smaller island nation makes for stronger borders and harder importation. In Bahrain, you have to pay $239 for a gram while next door in Saudi Arabia, the same gram on the street only costs $42. Then again, the death penalty, if caught, could help deter buyers and lower the price.

When compared to Third World countries, these costs are astronomical. The cheapest place in the world to buy a gram of heroin on the street is Tanzania where you only have to pay $1.50. Even in Afghanistan, the heart of the Golden Triangle, you have to $2.40 on the street for a gram of what most likely would be the purest heroin in the world. Although you only have to pay $5 for a gram of heroin on the streets of Honduras, the same drug will cost you $50 just over the border in Guatemala.

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Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles with his beautiful wife, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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