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An Ounce Of Prevention, A Pound Of Uncertainty: The Cost-effectiveness Of School-based Drug Prevention Programs

by Jonathan P. Caulkins

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The Georgetown Public Policy Review
Challenges current knowledge of the drug control policy community...succeeds in stretching the limits of current knowledge and measures of effectiveness.

Book Description
In the war on drugs, children are on the front lines. Is just saying no protection enough? The authors examine the results of popular school drug prevention programs to determine how effective they are at reducing cocaine use and whether these programs are money well spent, when compared with drug-enforcement or drug-treatment programs.

From the Publisher
This book describes an analysis of the cost-effectiveness of modelschool-based drug prevention programs at reducing cocaine consumption.We compare prevention's cost-effectiveness with that ofseveral enforcement programs and with that of treating heavy cocaineusers. We also assess the cost of nationwide implementation ofmodel prevention programs and the implementation's likely effecton the nation's cocaine consumption.There is considerable uncertainty surrounding the cost-effectivenessof school-based drug prevention programs- even the model programsto which we restrict the scope of this study. Hence we providea range of cost-effectiveness estimates. The range is comparable tothat previously derived for different enforcement interventions. Nationwideimplementation of a model program would be affordable,but it would not dramatically affect the course of drug use, and alsothe benefits would take years to accrue. Nevertheless, implementingmodel prevention programs seems to be justifiable in that the benefitsproduced would likely outweigh the costs of the resources used.This is the latest in a series of publications by RAND's Drug PolicyResearch Center that addresses the cost-effectiveness of drug controlstrategies. The other available volumes are as follows: Susan S. Everingham and C. Peter Rydell, Modeling the Demandfor Cocaine, MR-332-ONDCP/A/DPRC, 1994. C. Peter Rydell and Susan S. Everingham, Controlling Cocaine:Supply Versus Demand Programs, MR-331-ONDCP/A/DPRC,1994. Jonathan P. Caulkins, C. Peter Rydell, William L. Schwabe, andJames Chiesa, Mandatory Minimum Drug Sentences: ThrowingAway the Key or the Taxpayers' Money? MR-827-DPRC, 1997.The research described in this book was sponsored by The RobertWood Johnson Foundation through its Substance Abuse Policy ResearchProgram. The work was also funded in part by a grant fromthe National Science Foundation. Our opinions, findings, conclusions,and recommendations do not necessarily reflect the views ofour sponsors.RAND's Drug Policy Research Center examines drug use trends andassesses control strategies for various sponsors and draws on coresupport from The Ford Foundation to sustain drug-research-relateddatabases and to ensure broad dissemination of results.Additional support was provided by Carnegie Mellon University andby RAND's Drug Policy Research Center with funding from The FordFoundation.

About the Author
Jonathan P. Caulkins (Ph.D., Operations Research, M.I.T.) is the Director of the RAND Pittsburgh Office, and a social scientist whose research includes developing mathematical models of social policy problems, and problems and policies concerning drugs, crime, and violence.

Susan M. Everingham (M.A. University of California at Los Angeles, Applied Mathematics) is the Director of the Forces and Resources Policy Center, National Security Research Division at RAND. Her areas of expertise include mathematical modeling of complex systems for policy analysis, criminal justice research, drug policy analysis, communication and information technology, and ballistic missile defense systems analysis.

James Chiesa (M.S., Environmental Science , Indiana University; M.A., Zoology , Indiana University) is a Communications Analyst at RAND.

Peter Rydell (U. Pennsylvania PhD Regional Science) is a Senior Social Scientist at RAND whose research interests include Military Personnel, Criminal Justice, Civil Justice, Rent Control, Housing Policy, and Welfare Caseloads.



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