The Drug Policy Metrics Map is an online tool developed for the cross comparison of international policies related to illegal drugs.
It demonstrates the alignment and gaps between the metrics that countries use to assess the effectiveness of their national drug policies, as well as the actual drug- and drug policy-related outcomes they experience.
The Drug Policy Metrics Map is the result of an international cross comparison of illegal drug policies conducted by the Centre on Drug Policy Evaluation (CDPE), in alignment with the CDPE’s mission to improve the health and safety of communities by conducting research on best practices in drug policy. Globally, supply-side strategies to reduce the scale of the illegal drug market have been prioritized by policymakers seeking to reduce drug-related harms. This has led to the development of a narrow and largely process-oriented set of drug policy effectiveness indicators that do not capture the real world impact of drug policies. These indicators include: the number of hectares of illegal drug crops eradicated by counternarcotics operations, the number and quantity of illegal drug seizures per year, and the number of people who use or traffic drugs that are arrested or in custody. However, a large body of evidence demonstrates the relative ineffectiveness of these supply-side approaches in managing the problems associated with drugs. In fact, research has shown that such policies have in fact contributed extensively to producing a range of harms to the health and safety of the individuals and communities that they affect.
Recently, a number of countries have sought to implement drug policies that focus on the health and safety of communities rather than on supply-side policing. To support this reorientation, a broader and more outcome-oriented set of indicators – those that measure the impact of drug policies on individuals and communities in the real world – is also required. In light of this need, the CDPE has proposed the following domains for evaluations of drug policy: Health, Peace and Security, Development, Human Rights, Demand Reduction, Supply Reduction, and International Cooperation. These domains enable a more comprehensive assessment of the impact of drug policies on a range of outcomes relevant to communities. They are also in alignment with many of the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
At this time, countries continue to use a range of approaches to evaluate their domestic drug policies. The Drug Policy Metrics Map will allow users to comparatively assess how countries determine policy success or failure, while also providing access to United Nations datasets on country-level drug policy-related outcomes.
We intend for this tool to help users identify evaluative approaches that support effective drug policies.
If you are a government official and would like to provide data for inputting into the Drug Policy Metrics Map, or if you have identified an error, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dan Werb, Executive Director, CDPE, St. Michael’s Hospital
Justine Tanguay, Lead Research Assistant, CDPE, St. Michael’s Hospital
Laís Dourado, Research Assistant, CDPE, St. Michael’s Hospital
Beauty Das, Research Assistant, CDPE, St. Michael’s Hospital
Janine Jivani, Research Assistant, CDPE, St. Michael’s Hospital
Mylini Saposan, Research Assistant, CDPE, St. Michael’s Hospital
Design & Development
Ali Shamas Qadeer, Professor, Faculty of Design, OCAD University
Shaheer Tarar, Research Assistant, OCAD University
Tucker McLachlan, Research Assistant, OCAD University
Rick Wang, Research Data Analyst, St. Michael’s Hospital
Indicator: A quantitative or qualitative variable that is used to measure changes across time and determine policy success. For example: the prevalence of HIV among people who inject drugs is an indicator assessing one outcome among a defined population.
Metric: A metric is a combination of 2 or more quantitative indicators and measures that help relate different dimensions of a variable. For example, the metric “Presence of needle and syringe programs” is made up of the following quantitative indicators: “the number of needle and syringe programs by region,” “the number of syringes distributed,” “the number of used syringes returned,” and “the number of clients enrolled in the needle and syringe program.”
Domain: A domain is the larger theme or category within which specific metrics and indicators fall. The CDPE proposes seven distinct domains to capture metrics and indicators used to evaluate illicit drug policies: Health, Peace and Security, Development, Human Rights, Demand Reduction, Supply Reduction, and International Cooperation.
Health: The health domain is comprised of a set of metrics that assess the impact of interventions to reduce the harms associated with unsafe drug use practices, such as the presence of needle and syringe programs and medication assisted treatment. Metrics in the health domain also assess drug-related health outcomes such as HIV prevalence and incidence, as well as overdoses among people who use drugs.
Peace and Security: The peace and security domain is comprised of a set of metrics that assess the impact of approaches to improve community safety and security related to drug use and traffic. Metrics are used to determine the rates of violence and crime related to drug activities, such as the prevalence of accidents related to drug use, the prevalence of acquisitive crime, and the number of drug-related homicides and disappearances.
Development: The development domain is comprised of a set of metrics that assess the government’s impact on development of communities. This includes measures of the provision of alternative livelihood programs to provide a form of financial security for people formerly subsisting on illegal drug production, by providing housing and social programmes to reduce poverty and homelessness or providing vocational skills training to support individuals participating in illegal drug economies to enter the workforce.
Human Rights: The human rights domain is comprised of a set of metrics that assess the impact of programmes that promote human rights and contributes to creating equality, such as the presence of special programmes that have been implemented to help vulnerable and marginalized groups and the presence of medication assisted treatments available in prisons.
Demand Reduction: The demand reduction domain is comprised of a set of metrics that assess drug use and the availability of prevention and addiction treatment programmes. These include measures to estimate the number of people who use drugs, the presence of prevention programming in law enforcement, the proportion of people enrolled in compulsory addiction treatment, the level of coverage of non-medication assisted treatment (MAT) or an unspecified treatment, and the prevalence of drug use by type.
Supply Reduction: The supply reduction domain is comprised of a set of metrics that assess the implementation of supply-side law enforcement activities. These include measures to estimate the number of drug arrests, drug seizures and drug-related offences, hectares of crops eradicated, and the overall proportion of people engaged with the criminal justice system. Specific measures also assess the size and value of the drug market by identifying the presence of drug trafficking routes, and the price, purity and potency of drugs.
International Cooperation: The international cooperation domain is comprised of a set of metrics that assess the level of a country’s engagement with other countries to reduce the harms associated with drug-related activities. Examples of specific indicators are the number of bilateral or multilateral meetings attended related to drugs or drug policy, the level of participation in international agreements and the number of agreements signed.
United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime (UNODC) data: “One of the key tasks of UNODC is to produce and disseminate accurate statistics on drugs, crime and criminal justice at the international level. UNODC also works to strengthen national capacities to produce, disseminate and use drugs, crime and criminal justice statistics within the framework of official statistics. UNODC regularly updates statistical series on crime, criminal justice, drug trafficking and prices, drug production, and drug use. Data disseminated by UNODC are mainly sourced from national statistical systems. Data on drugs are submitted through the Annual Report Questionnaire (ARQ) and the Individual Drug Seizure (IDS) reports, while data on crime and criminal justice are supplied through the annual United Nations Survey on Crime Trends and Operations of Criminal Justice Systems (UN-CTS). UNODC processes data to increase data comparability and to produce regional and global estimates.”