Drug Abuse Research:

Federal Funding and Future Needs

PEMD-92-5: Published: Jan 14, 1992. Publicly Released: Apr 29, 1992.

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Robert L. York
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined federally funded research on the treatment, prevention, and causes of drug abuse, focusing on: (1) trends in funding federally sponsored research on drug abuse compared with other trends in federal research support; (2) trends in funding different categories of drug abuse research; and (3) priority research questions regarding the causes, prevention, and treatment of drug abuse.

GAO found that: (1) from 1973 through 1982, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) funded drug abuse research at a level 38 percent below the 1973 level in constant 1982 dollars, but funding consistently grew from 1983 through 1990; (2) between 1980 and 1990, budget obligations for extramural research increased by an average of 29 percent across the federal government's major departments and agencies; (3) during 1989 and 1990, causality, prevention, and treatment research accounted for 50 percent of NIDA extramural grant support; (4) NIDA spent the most on treatment, followed by prevention and causality research; (5) the Office of Justice Programs is the second largest sponsor of pertinent drug abuse research and spent the majority of its funding on studies of drugs and crime and the evaluation of enforcement and judicial process; (6) researchers identified the importance of studying the psychological and social/environmental factors which may contribute to the causes of drug abuse, intervention effectiveness, and drug policy impact studies as high research priorities; (7) responses from experts on treatment issues were the most general and broad, and were clustered in three areas, including stages in the treatment process, intervention effectiveness, and treatment approaches; and (8) between 1980 and 1990, drug research increased by over 200 percent, or 400 percent if funding related to acquired immune deficiency syndrome was included, while national defense research and development (R&D) funding increased by 83 percent and nondefense R&D increased by 5 percent.

Matters for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Overall review took place during fall 1993 and spring 1994 during the reauthorization of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. This reauthorization has been included as part of the 1994 Omnibus Crime Bill. The Crime Bill has been approved by the House and Senate and signed into law (P.L. 103-322).

    Matter: Congress should review the place of research in national drug control policy.

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: An overall review of evaluation efforts in the war on drugs was held in conjunction with reauthorization of the Office of National Drug Control Policy in 1993-1994. This reauthorization was incorporated into the 1994 Omnibus Crime Bill that was signed in September 1994 (P.L. 103-322).

    Matter: Congress should review whether evaluation research is being adequately conducted at the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the major executive agencies responsible for segments of the national drug control program.


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