Updated May 16, 2023
How much does heroin cost? If you’re not a user or buyer, you may have no idea how much a person that is using illegal drugs or prescription medications to get high is actually spending on them. When you consider the cost of any drug, whether it’s heroin, cocaine or marijuana, a variety of factors are at play.
It’s very difficult to provide an exact price for any illicit substance. The information isn’t readily known, and costs vary significantly from one area to the next.
The current street drug prices do operate a bit like traditional economics. When an area has a large amount of that drug, the prices are lower. When there’s a demand for a “good batch,” the price goes up.
Also important is the economic conditions in the given area. A person selling drugs in an affluent area is likely to charge more for the same amount and type of heroin than in other areas simply because the market will pay for it.
Illicit drug costs also change based on the type of drug. How much you will pay for a hit of one drug or the next depends significantly on what you’re buying, or what you think you’re buying. The harder the substance is to obtain — and the more lethal it is — the more expensive it will be to purchase.
Here, the goal is to try to piece together some information about street drug prices based on available evidence. However, these numbers may be significantly different in your area compared to another.
Consider One User’s Claims of Drug Use
While looking at the individual hit price is important, it’s also essential to consider how much a person is spending on drugs in comparison to their overall income. Again, this information isn’t well understood simply because most people using illicit drugs don’t want others to know how much they’re spending on them or that they’re using them.
In a Reddit post, someone provided a list of their monthly budget. They wanted to show just how much they spend each month on their heroin habit.
The chart showed that this person spent $500 a month on their mortgage, including insurance and taxes. They spent just $200 on food. And out of their gross income of $4,900 per month, they spent $2,000 on heroin.
There’s no way to know the authenticity of this information, or where the person is based. But the information provides insight into just how costly such a habit is.
How Does the Government Price Drugs?
How does law enforcement place a price tag on the street drugs they seize? Government agencies use a variety of factors to determine how much street drug prices are and what people at all levels are paying for them. Local, state and county authorities generally use their own data, based on what it costs to buy those drugs within their communities, as a starting point.
The federal government uses data based on many factors, including insight from their agents working in the field. They also gain information from costs when they seize both the drugs and the money used to pay for them.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration does this at the federal level. The agency works through the Office of National Drug Control Policy to police, research and distribute information related to the cost of drugs. At all levels, each field office may use a different price point, so the average citizen may have difficulty getting access to the report that lists the costs of any given drug.
Law enforcement has an easier time determining the cost of high-value drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, because they can gather data based on drug busts and seizures to make those estimates. However, it’s harder to pinpoint a specific value for drugs like marijuana, which is prevalent in most areas and sold numerous times over.
While a simple street drug price chart that all agencies use to figure the cost doesn’t exist, they do have internal documents that offer guidelines. In some cases, those figures may be hard to understand even with this information since the public doesn’t have access to all the data.
How Much Does Heroin Cost?
Over the last few years, the availability of heroin has increased significantly. As that happened, the price of this once hard-to-find drug has fallen. However, what the average user pays can be hard to pinpoint because of the potency of the drug.
Heroin’s makeup changes frequently. The more powerful the drug combinations are, the more expensive they become. Some dealers are cutting heroin, along with black tar heroin, significantly with other products to increase prices.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime provides a detailed estimated cost of heroin, as well as other drugs. It reports that, in 2016, the average cost of a small baggie of heroin was up to $20. It could be sold for as little as $5 in some areas. The average price of the drug was $152 per gram, based on U.S. data. A dealer generally will divide a gram into about 20 bags.
The amount that a person uses depends on their addiction. It is not uncommon for a person to purchase 10 or more bags to fuel their need. This means a person could end up spending $200 a day on the drug if they have a severe addiction.
This estimate in price is for basic, uncut heroin, which is becoming harder to find in some communities. When laced with fentanyl or other substances, the costs can be twice as much or more.
How Much Does Cocaine Cost?
Importing cocaine into the United States has become more challenging in recent years. Port authorities are more suspicious of packages and have increased both random and all-product screenings at the borders. As a result, cocaine can be harder to find in the United States than it used to be. That has driven prices up somewhat in some areas.
In terms of quality, cocaine is generally weakened when sold. That is, dealers add powder or other substances to it to stretch their supply. This allows the dealer to walk away with more money in their pocket, but the quality of the cocaine they’re selling is much lower. Cocaine users with a serious addiction may need to spend more to purchase enough cocaine to meet their needs.
According to the same report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the average cost of cocaine in 2016 was $92 per gram. It may be possible to purchase it in a range of $25 to $200 across the country, depending on availability and quality.
Cocaine is one of the most expensive of all illicit street drugs. A gram of cocaine, which is the most common purchase for a moderate to heavy user, will yield about 10 lines. A gram may also yield as many as 25 hits.
For those who have a severe cocaine addiction, it can be a very expensive habit. It’s not uncommon for people to need as much as 5 grams per day to sustain a significant habit, which can amount to thousands of dollars each month.
How Much Is Crack Cocaine?
Because cocaine has become so expensive and hard to find, many people seek out crack or crack cocaine instead. Because it’s a crystalized format, it doesn’t have the same amount of the drug in it as would a gram of cocaine. A person purchasing crack will spend much less because the substance is less pure, and it’s more accessible.
It’s hard to pinpoint the drug street price for crack cocaine because prices range widely based on location. Some reports indicate that it costs about $60 per gram. Usually, a person purchasing it would buy a gram at a time. Those with a serious addiction to crack, though, could spend $200 or more per day in some areas.
How Much Does Marijuana Cost?
Marijuana is one of the most complex drugs to put a price tag on. In some areas, it’s now legal for recreational use. In others, it’s legal for medical use. These laws have helped to make the drug more accessible. Because it’s inexpensive to grow, especially in areas where it’s legalized, and easy to transport, marijuana’s pricing ranges widely.
Another key reason why the costs range so much is the quality. Now that it’s being grown in larger amounts, different varieties are available. Some brands are charging more than others for various reasons, including demand, the rarity of the particular product and the overall cost to grow it from seed.
Reports indicate that the average price of 1/8 of an ounce of marijuana is about $40. It’s even less expensive — about 30% cheaper — in Canada. Prices range widely by location in the United States as well.
For example, in San Francisco, consumers can expect to pay $43.80 on average for 1/8th of an ounce. In Denver, it costs $32.50 for the same amount. The cost of the drug has dropped significantly over the years as more states have legalized it for one form or another.
As such, the legal industry is far less profitable for dealers than it used to be. The same is not true for illegal drug sales. In areas where marijuana isn’t legal, the cost is significantly higher. A low-grade source can cost $130 or more per ounce, with a high-grade product reaching as much as $595 in some areas.
Users can purchase marijuana in a variety of ways. About an ounce of weed is enough to make 42 joints or 28 blunts. Some people use it infrequently; others smoke four or more joints per day. Depending on the location and other factors, this can amount to spending $500 or more per month on the drug.
How Much Does Meth Cost?
Meth, or methamphetamine, when sold illegally, can be an expensive drug. Consumer Affairs notes that the cost of meth is as high as $3,500 per pound in some areas of the country, notably Texas and California. In other areas where it’s harder to access, such as in the northern portions of the country, it’s even more.
Costs can range from $400 to $3,000 per ounce, though most people use only a fraction of this. It’s more commonly sold by the gram with the price per gram in the range of $3 to $500, depending on location, quality and demand.
A single gram of meth can produce about four hits, and a hit costs about $5 in some areas. In rural areas, it’s often thought of as an inexpensive drug to get a big high from, which has led to significant overdoses in many areas.
What About Prescription Pill Illicit Use?
The street price for illicit use of prescription medications ranges significantly based on the drug itself, location and availability. Many drugs are sold by the pill, especially those that are more in demand, such as Vicodin.
Many factors can play a role in cost. For example, if someone wishes to purchase the name-brand Vicodin, they will pay more for it than for an off-brand product. Purchasing a bottle can be more expensive than purchasing a set of pills too.
The illicit sale of prescription drugs is readily accessible in most areas of the country. However, many of these drugs are more expensive to obtain because getting prescriptions, especially as opioid prescriptions begin to fall in number, is hard to do. That’s why many people look for alternatives, such as heroin or fentanyl.
Take a look at the street cost of some of the most common prescription opioids and other illicit drugs sold illegally in the United States:
- A single pill of Xanax, which is about 2mg, costs $7.
- A single Adderall XR pill, in generic form and about 20mg, costs $5.
- A single OxyContin pill of 20mg costs $20.
- A 10mg methadone tablet, off brand, costs $10.
- A single Viagra pill of 100mg is about $20.
- A single Suboxone film of 8mg is about $20.
- A fentanyl patch, which is about 25mcg, is about $40.
The key here is that these prices are always changing, often daily. They also vary significantly from one area of the country to another. StreetRx provides some up-to-date and real-time costs associated with the street price of these drugs across the country.
All prices in this street drug price guide are subject to change due to location, demand and availability. It can be very difficult to pinpoint prices in any area, including for illicitly-sold prescription drugs, but they most certainly are more expensive than purchasing a prescription from a pharmacy.
The Hidden Cost of Addiction
Substance addiction involves more expenses than simply the cost of the substance in question. The hidden cost of drug and alcohol addiction doesn’t remain hidden for long. Substance addiction will impact physical and mental health; it’s not a question of if, but when. When alcohol and drugs do begin to impact a person’s health and overall wellbeing, the costs can accumulate rapidly.
Substance addiction is associated with a dizzying array of health complications. They range from mental illness to physical health conditions such as the development of some cancers, organ damage, cardiovascular disease, and more. The cost to deal with these health issues can quickly escalate. The need for ongoing treatments and medication further adds to the expense of addiction.
Aside from health complications, individuals with a substance addiction often experience job loss or lost wages from work. When a person becomes ill with a long-term or chronic health condition, they may be unable to work and earn wages. The costs needed to maintain one’s home, transportation, food, and other aspects of one’s life become challenging to impossible depending on the person’s condition.
Costs vary depending on a person’s health and other circumstances. Some people may face legal expenses associated with their drug or alcohol use. Others may experience divorce or other expensive problems related to their substance addiction. Monetary costs can become astronomical in total, but there’s also the cost to one’s physical and mental wellbeing that takes a serious toll on a person’s life.
Cost of Addiction Treatment
We’ve certainly demonstrated how expensive substance addiction is, but there are more costs to consider. The cost of rehab can be a barrier to getting treatment. This is unfortunate because treatment not only saves lives but also prevents a further escalation of costs related to drug addiction.
Nevertheless, addiction treatment is an investment in one’s future. It can prevent drugs and alcohol from further eroding health, and it helps people get their lives and finances back on track. People who have an addiction but are still working and have benefits should take advantage of their medical insurance now while their job is secure. It’s not uncommon for drug addiction to eventually impact one’s job, making job loss more than a remote possibility.
Getting treatment now is the best means to protect one’s job. Mental health and substance abuse treatment are covered by most insurance plans, and employers cannot discriminate against any employee seeking behavioral health or other healthcare treatments. Some people may be able to complete a drug addiction treatment program in 30 days; others may require much longer. Today, people have lots of options for treatment, including inpatient and outpatient rehab programs. Both can be costly, but again, these programs help clients put substance addiction behind them.
People who lose their employment may still be eligible for free resources and may qualify for Medicaid, but the process to receive these benefits can be cumbersome; the quality of care may vary and each person’s circumstances may impact whether or not they qualify for this type of assistance.
Getting in touch with a rehab or one’s healthcare provider is the best way to begin the treatment process. They can advise patients about their plan and its coverage options or recommend resources that will help them on their treatment and recovery journey.
Are You Tired of Spending So Much on Drugs?
For those who are ready to stop their habit, it’s critical to seek help. At FHE Health, a compassionate counselor is available to speak to you 24 hours a day at (833) 596-3502.