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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

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    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. repec:spr:joptap:v:133:y:2007:i:1:d:10.1007_s10957-007-9180-6 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:spr:joptap:v:128:y:2006:i:2:d:10.1007_s10957-006-9016-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. 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.
    6. 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.


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