IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Optimal Dynamic Allocation of Treatment and Enforcement in Illicit Drug Control


  • Gernot Tragler

    () (Vienna University of Technology, Department of Operations Research and Systems Theory, Argentinierstrasse 8/1192, A-1040, Vienna, Austria)

  • Jonathan P. Caulkins

    () (Carnegie Mellon University, H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management; and RAND, 201 North Craig St., Suite 102, Pittsburgh, PA 15213)

  • Gustav Feichtinger

    () (Vienna University of Technology, Department of Operations Research and Systems Theory, Argentinierstrasse 8/1192, A-1040, Vienna, Austria)


There has been considerable debate about what share of drug control resources should be allocated to treatment vs. enforcement. Most of the debate has presumed that there is one answer to that question, but it seems plausible that the mix of interventions should vary as the size of the problem changes. We formulate the choice between treatment and enforcement as an optimal control problem and reach the following conclusions. If initiation into drug use is an increasing function of the current number of users and control begins early, then it is optimal to use very large amounts of both enforcement and treatment to cut short the epidemic. Otherwise the optimal policy is not to stop the growth of the epidemic, but rather to moderate it. Initially this should be done primarily with enforcement. Over time, enforcement spending should increase, but not nearly so fast as treatment spending. Hence, treatment should receive a larger share of control resources when a drug problem is mature than when it is first growing. If initiation rates subsequently decline, enforcement's budget share should drop further in the ensuing declining stage of the epidemic.

Suggested Citation

  • Gernot Tragler & Jonathan P. Caulkins & Gustav Feichtinger, 2001. "Optimal Dynamic Allocation of Treatment and Enforcement in Illicit Drug Control," Operations Research, INFORMS, vol. 49(3), pages 352-362, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:oropre:v:49:y:2001:i:3:p:352-362

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Dechert, W. Davis & Nishimura, Kazuo, 1983. "A complete characterization of optimal growth paths in an aggregated model with a non-concave production function," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 332-354, December.
    2. Saffer, Henry & Chaloupka, Frank, 1999. "The Demand for Illicit Drugs," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 37(3), pages 401-411, July.
    3. Becker, Gary S & Grossman, Michael & Murphy, Kevin M, 1994. "An Empirical Analysis of Cigarette Addiction," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 396-418, June.
    4. Moore, Mark H, 1973. "Policies to Achieve Discrimination on the Effective Price of Heroin," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(2), pages 270-277, May.
    5. Hartl, Richard F., 1987. "A simple proof of the monotonicity of the state trajectories in autonomous control problems," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 211-215, February.
    6. C. Peter Rydell & Jonathan P. Caulkins & Susan S. Everingham, 1996. "Enforcement or Treatment? Modeling the Relative Efficacy of Alternatives for Controlling Cocaine," Operations Research, INFORMS, vol. 44(5), pages 687-695, October.
    7. Baveja, Alok & Caulkins, Jonathan P. & Liu, Wensheng & Batta, Rajan & Karwan, Mark H., 1997. "When haste makes sense: Cracking down on street markets for illicit drugs," Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 293-306, December.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. repec:spr:joptap:v:116:y:2003:i:3:d:10.1023_a:1023017403842 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Daniel Mejía & Pascual Restrepo, 2008. "The War on Illegal Drug Production and Trafficking: An Economic Evaluation of Plan Colombia," Documentos CEDE 005123, Universidad de los Andes - CEDE.
    3. Tatiana Kiseleva & Florian Wagener, 2015. "Bifurcations of Optimal Vector Fields," Mathematics of Operations Research, INFORMS, vol. 40(1), pages 24-55, February.
    4. repec:spr:joptap:v:133:y:2007:i:1:d:10.1007_s10957-007-9180-6 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. repec:spr:joptap:v:128:y:2006:i:2:d:10.1007_s10957-006-9016-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. R.F. Hartl & P.M. Kort & G. Feichtinger, 2003. "Offense Control Taking into Account Heterogeneity of Age," Journal of Optimization Theory and Applications, Springer, vol. 116(3), pages 591-620, March.
    7. Alfred Blumstein, 2002. "Crime Modeling 1," Operations Research, INFORMS, vol. 50(1), pages 16-24, February.
    8. Harry Clarke & Martin Byford, 2009. "Addictive Drug Use Management Policies In A Long‐Run Economic Model," Australian Economic Papers, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 48(2), pages 151-165, June.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:inm:oropre:v:49:y:2001:i:3:p:352-362. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Matthew Walls). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.