Economics is a driver of alcohol and cocaine use because it is both the cause and the effect of how it is viewed and the controls put on it.
What makes the driver of economics compelling when viewed in relation to alcohol and cocaine is that one drug is legal and one isn’t.
With alcohol, taxes have been used since antiquity to raise money for treasury coffers and to act as a regulator for consumption. However these two aims become contradictory before long, as governments rely on the money raised through taxes and therefore do not want people to stop consuming. The alcohol industry is worth billions of dollars and the stakeholders range from manufacturers to the millions of jobs provided by the hospitality industry.
With cocaine, the illegal industry is creating revenue for many different players along the supply chain. Although the government cannot make money from taxes or duties from the manufacture and distribution of cocaine, it still makes money out of this billion dollar black market. The economy of cocaine is more complex than that of alcohol, with the stakeholders less identifiable and more diverse.
No matter the differences between these two drugs, the economic reality is that these industries are worth billions of dollars (no matter the cost to society) and therefore any discussions about economics have to consider the political agendas of those that stand to lose a lot of cash if regulations to either moderate or ban these drugs were actually to be effective.