What is known about drug-related social costs in Hungary?

On the overall social cost of drug-use a study has not yet been conducted. On public expenditure – that is part of the social costs – there has been an estimation made, based on data from 2005.

What are the the fields in which public expenditures are usually examined?

International and European practice basically distinguishes four public expenditure items:

  • prevention/research,
  • law enforcement/criminal justice,
  • health treatment and
  • harm reduction.

Which fields did the Hungarian study assess?

The above general, functional categories had to be matched with real organisational areas in the course of the research. The following organisational systems have been covered:

(a)organisations of criminal justice including:

  • police
  • Hungarian Customs and Finance Guard
  • Prosecution Service
  • law courts and
  • the Prison Service.

(b)>health-care system and
(c) social care system.

What are methods used for estimating public expenditure?

It represented a basic problem of the research, that the concerned organisations did not collect any specific data on drug-related expenditures. So the question arose in each case: how can a reasonably accurate estimation of public expenditures be made on the basis of structured data and/or unstructured/qualitative information on a certain organisation?

The answer was different in the case of each organisation/organisational system:

In the case of the five organisations in the field of criminal justice, the estimation was based on the share of drug-related cases among all cases processed by the given organisation. This proportion was used to calculate a raw estimate of drug related expenditures. This rough estimate was subsequently refined in several steps so that the final estimation reflected (i) significant differences between drug-related and non drug-related specific costs (if any), as well as (ii) some of the empirical and conceptual ambiguities related to the causal role of drug in a particular expenditure.

Health-care expenditures were estimated on the basis of detailed activity data reported by health service providers to the National Health Insurance Fund. Although these data serve as a basis of actual funding of health services, due to the lack of adequate control mechanisms the validity of these data is rather doubtful. To improve the accuracy of the estimation expert judgement was used for identifying the specialized health centres, inpatient and outpatient care provided to drug addicts as well as the scope of lab tests.

Public expenditure estimation in the social care system covers all services provided to clients – inpatient, outpatient as well as residential care – that fall under the definition of “health treatment”. Budgetary estimation includes amounts directly transferred by the national government (so-called normative financing), as well as additional financing allocated to church-run centres and those provided by local and regional governments. In addition to that the expenditures of social inclusion and diversion programmes, managed by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour, have also been taken into account.

More on public expenditures and its methodology on EMCDDA’s website