This report analyzes the relative cost-effectiveness of various available drug interventions. Four such interventions analyzed in this document are (1) source country control; (2) interdiction; (3) domestic enforcement; and (4) treatment of heavy users. The first three of these programs focus on supply-control, whereby the cost of supplying cocaine is increased by seizing drugs and assets and by arresting and incarcerating dealers and their agents. The fourth program is a demand-control program because it reduces consumption directly, without going through the price mechanism. This study states that an estimated $13 billion are being spent in the United States each year on the four drug programs listed above and that the bulk of those resources are spent on domestic enforcement. Treatment of heavy users has only a small percentage of this budget, even when privately funded treatment is included. Given the high cost of supply control programs, this report concludes that treatment of heavy users may be a more cost-effective way of dealing with drug interventions.
The work reported here was sponsored by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the U.S. Army, RAND’s Drug Policy Research Center (DPRC) with funding from The Ford Foundation, and RAND’s Social Policy Department. The research was jointly carried out within three RAND entities: the DPRC, the National Defense Research Institute (NDRI), and the Strategy and Doctrine Program of the RAND Arroyo Center.
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