Lies, Damned Lies, and Drug War Statistics, Second Edition

A Critical Analysis of Claims Made by the Office of National Drug Control Policy

By Matthew B. Robinson & Renee G. Scherlen

Subjects: Alcohol And Drug Studies, Criminology, Social Problems, Public Policy
Paperback : 9781438448381, 328 pages, January 2014
Hardcover : 9781438448374, 328 pages, January 2014

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents

List of Illustrations
Preface to the Second Edition
1. Introduction
2. About America’s Drug War
3. Methodology
4. Claims About Reducing Drug Use
5. Claims About Disrupting Drug Markets and Claims About Costs of Drug Abuse
6. A Fair Assessment of America’s Drug War
7. Conclusion and Policy Recommendations

Revised and updated edition that analyses how the Office of National Drug Control Policy employs statistics to misleadingly claim the War on Drugs is a success.


First published in 2007, Lies, Damned Lies, and Drug War Statistics critically analyzed claims made by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), the White House agency of accountability in the nation's drug war since 1989, as found in the six editions of the annual National Drug Control Strategy between 2000 and 2005. In this revised and updated second edition of their critically acclaimed work, Matthew B. Robinson and Renee G. Scherlen examine seven more recent editions (2006–2012) to once again determine if ONDCP accurately and honestly presents information or intentionally distorts evidence to justify continuing the drug war. They uncover the many ways in which ONDCP manipulates statistics and visually presents that information to the public. Their analysis demonstrates a drug war that consistently fails to reduce drug use, drug fatalities, or illnesses associated with drug use; fails to provide treatment for drug-dependent users; and drives up the prices of drugs. They conclude with policy recommendations for reforming ONDCP's use of statistics, as well as how the nation fights the war on drugs.

At Appalachian State University, Matthew B. Robinson is Professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology. Robinson is the author of several books, including Media Coverage of Crime and Criminal Justice. Renee G. Scherlen, is Professor of Political Science at Appalachian State University.


"This second edition of the book will continue to shape the growing debate about issues such as fair drug sentencing and the decriminalization of marijuana." — CHOICE

Praise for the First Edition

"Lies, Damned Lies, and Drug War Statistics is surprisingly easy to read, and Robinson and Scherlen have done a huge favor not only to critics of current drug policy by compiling this damning critique of ONDCP claims, but also to anyone interested in how data is compiled, presented, and misused by bureaucrats attempting to guard their domains. It should be required reading for members of Congress." — Drug War Chronicle Book Review

"The authors have performed a valuable service to our democracy with their meticulous analysis of the White House ONDCP public statements and reports. They have pulled the sheet off what appears to be an official policy of deception using clever and sometimes clumsy attempts at statistical manipulation. This document, at last, gives us a map of the truth." — Mike Gray, author of Drug Crazy: How We Got into This Mess and How We Can Get Out

"Robinson and Scherlen make a valuable contribution to documenting how ONDCP fails to live up to basic standards of accountability and consistency." — Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director, Drug Policy Alliance