Cost Of Illicit Drugs (Street Price)

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The cost of illegal drugs varies greatly depending on the drug. Other factors, such as supply and demand, also influence individual drug costs. Many treatment options exist for people addicted to illicit drugs.

Cost Of Illicit Drugs (Street Price)

Commonly used illicit drugs are purchased illegally from drug dealers on the street or via the dark web.

Worldwide, the illegal drug market nets more than $360 billion per year. Americans alone spend more than $150 billion on street drugs, which also includes illicit prescription drugs.

Increases in drug addiction and overdoses in recent years highlight the need for increased drug education and treatment options.

Read on to learn about what determines the average price of illegal drugs sold on the street, the hidden costs of drug addiction, and effective addiction treatment options.

Illicit Drug Prices By Type

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least 13% of Americans ages 12 and older used illegal drugs within the past month.

Illicit drug use may develop into an addiction, and financial strain is often a sign that a person needs help.

Type Of Illicit Drug Average Street Value
MDMA $15 to $25 per pill
Marijuana $15 to $20 per gram
LSD $5 to $20 per tab
Cocaine $100 to $120 per gram
Crack cocaine $15 to $20 per rock
Methamphetamine $80 per gram
Heroin $15 to $20 per dose (0.1 gram)
Psilocybin $5 - $12 per gram


You may be surprised to learn that cannabis is considered a hallucinogen, but it falls under the categories of a stimulant, depressant, and hallucinogen.

Other commonly used hallucinogens include MDMA, also known as ecstasy or molly, and LSD, known as acid.

On the street, one gram of marijuana typically costs $15 to $20, while an ounce can range from $250 to $300. The cost will vary depending on strain and quality.

MDMA is usually sold in pill form at $15 to $25 per pill. Most pills contain between 70 mg and 100 mg of MDMA and range in color, shape, and size. Many street dealers stamp MDMA pills with unique logos or designs.

LSD is sold in liquid or pill form, as a gel sheet, or as drops on blotter paper. The cost ranges from $5 to $20 per LSD tab (square-shaped tabs placed under the tongue); $500 to $1,000 per sheet, which contains 100 tabs; or $200 to $500 per vial, with 100 doses.

Stimulant Drugs

Cocaine, crack cocaine, and methamphetamine are the most commonly used stimulants. Cocaine costs the most of all stimulants, which is why it’s known as “the rich man’s drug.”

Cocaine prices have soared over the last few years, while the drug’s purity has significantly decreased. The average cost of one gram of cocaine may range from $100 to $120.

Crack cocaine is cocaine in crystalized form. Many people purchase crack cocaine in single doses for $15 to $20 for a single rock. One gram of crack cocaine may range from $60 to $100.

Methamphetamine (“meth”) is typically the cheapest of all stimulant street drugs. One dose of meth is about 0.25 grams, or $20, with a gram selling for $80.

Illicit Opioids

Heroin is a fast-acting natural opioid, or opiate, that is derived from the poppy plant. It is highly addicting and one of the most problematic drugs sold on the street.

Heroin varies from white to brown in color. Its consistency may also vary, as the drug is commonly mixed with other substances like sugar and starch, or drugs like fentanyl, to increase profit.

Heroin is cheaper than prescription opioids sold on the street, such as Vicodin. On average, it costs $15 to $20 for 0.1 gram of heroin.

What Affects The Street Price Of Illegal Drugs?

Many factors affect the price of illegal drugs. The cost of drugs in the rural Midwest will not be the same as it is in densely populated cities.

There are four factors that primarily affect the price of street drugs: supply and demand, location, ease of acquisition, and local drug enforcement laws and regulations.

Supply And Demand

Behind every joint, tablet, powder, liquid, rock, and edible lies a complex system of people who source, manufacture, and sell the drug.

Cocaine, for example, is sourced from the coca plant, which grows in the jungles of Bolivia, Columbia, and Peru. Workers extract coca in labs, where it’s combined with other chemicals.

Drug traffickers smuggle drugs into countries and hand them off to organized crime members, who then combine the drugs with cutting agents and distribute them to lower-level dealers.

The supply of a drug, at any given time, is determined by the ease in which the stream of trafficking can occur. If a shipment is seized by legal entities, the prices may increase.

Drug sales are driven by profit. If a city proves especially lucrative for sales, there will be a greater effort to smuggle drugs to this location, as the potential for profit is high.


Location also significantly influences illicit drug prices.

In major cities, where there is a greater population of people and drug dealers, more drugs are likely available at lower prices, unless the supply happens to be low.

In more rural areas, people using illicit drugs may make hours’ long commutes to big cities, perhaps even several times in one day, to score drugs at a more affordable price.

Small towns with smaller populations tend to have fewer drug dealers. If one dealer is out of stock, then an alternative may be traveling to a bigger city.

In more populated areas, there is a greater likelihood of connecting with a dealer who has the supply to meet the current need.

This is one reason why certain highly populated areas, like Los Angeles’ Skidrow or Kensington, PA, have become havens for people who buy and use illicit drugs.

Ease Of Acquisition

Ease of acquisition goes hand in hand with supply and demand. If greater supply of a sought-after substance is available, then it will sell for a lower price.

For example, if there are an abundance of street dealers selling marijuana in one given area, then the price of a gram may sell for $15 as opposed to $20.

If there is a shortage of the drug in question, or if there are fewer street dealers selling the drug, the drug will retail for a higher price.

Local Laws And Regulations

While drugs may be deemed illegal on a national level, each state has its own set of drug policies that determine the severity of drug-related crimes.

In Connecticut, for example, it is legal to carry up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana.

In Alabama, however, where marijuana is not decriminalized, a first-time offender found with any amount of marijuana faces up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $6,000.

The risk that street dealers take to provide a substance, in consideration of local laws, will impact the price.

The Hidden Costs Of Illicit Drug Addiction

It’s no secret that illegal drug use carries major costs, both financially and health-wise. Drug use takes a toll on the mind, body, and spirit of people with addiction, as well as their families.

Here is a closer look at the true cost of addiction.

Personal Costs

When a person uses drugs, consequences of their drug use can seep into all areas of their lives, even if it doesn’t escalate into a full-blown addiction.

Drug abuse is associated with the following outcomes:

  • higher rates of workplace absence
  • increased risk of injuries and accidents
  • behavioral problems, including paranoia, aggressiveness, hallucinations, and loss of self-control
  • greater likelihood of violence, particularly domestic violence

It’s not uncommon for drugs to take center-stage in a person’s life. Priorities like family, career, and personal health may fall to the wayside at the expense of drug use.

Physical And Mental Health Costs

Drug use can drastically deteriorate a person’s physical and mental health.

Being under the influence of drugs also lowers a person’s inhibitions, making them more likely to partake in risky behaviors, like unprotected sex and sharing needles.

Some of the health risks associated with drug addiction include:

  • heart disease
  • lung disease
  • hepatitis B and C
  • heart attack
  • stroke
  • dental problems
  • higher rates of infections

Drug use can also trigger mental health disorders, such as an anxiety disorder or depression, and aggravate existing disorders, making them more difficult to manage.

Financial Costs

Drug addiction can tack on financial costs in the thousands. For some people, the cost of drug addiction topples into the six figures.

A person with a chronic heroin addiction, for example, may spend up to $200 on the substance each day. Over the course of a year, this number jumps to approximately $75,000, which is higher than the average national salary.

The cost of drugs is considered apart from standard living costs, such as rent or mortgage payments, food, gas, electrical bills, and more.

The huge financial cost of drug addiction is one reason why many people experience housing issues as a result of their drug use.

No matter how often a person uses drugs, there is a chance for their drug use to escalate with time, as both their physical tolerance and mental addiction to the drug increase.

Addiction Treatment Programs For Illegal Drug Abuse

Detox programs, addiction treatment centers, and sober living homes are located across the U.S. to help people facing substance use disorders.

People without health insurance can find healthcare options supported by community resources, nonprofits, and government-funded programs.

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is one of the many methods that can help people recover from certain addictions. People with opioid use disorder, for example, may be prescribed methadone or Suboxone to aid in their recovery.

Short-term and long-term treatment options are available, along with sober living homes to help people who have completed a treatment program transition back into everyday life.

No matter the drug or the severity of addiction, there are specialized treatment centers that can provide the necessary help.

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