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The development of an Australian drug policy index Assoc Prof Alison Ritter Director, Drug Policy Modelling Program (DPMP) University of New South Wales.

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Presentation on theme: "The development of an Australian drug policy index Assoc Prof Alison Ritter Director, Drug Policy Modelling Program (DPMP) University of New South Wales."— Presentation transcript:

1 The development of an Australian drug policy index Assoc Prof Alison Ritter Director, Drug Policy Modelling Program (DPMP) University of New South Wales

2 An Index? Measuring drug policy important Complicated because - Multiple domains of interest: law enforcement, harm reduction, treatment, prevention No agreement on the outcomes - - Value judgements come into play - Benefits to one section of the community may mean harms to another section of the community Single common metric -Ecological footprint -DALY

3 Existing indexes UNODC “Illicit Drug Index” ―Purpose: compare countries/regions + over time ―3 parts: production, trafficking, abuse UK “Drug Harm Index” ―Purpose: monitor progress of Drug Strategy ―3 parts: crime; community problems; health AFP “Drug Harm Index” ―Purpose: value to Aus community of seizures ―$ value of harm averted (if seizures were not seized) ―Consumption x social cost of harms, kg consumed/harm, $ harm per kg Harm Index rankings (Nutt et al., 2007) Victoria Police New Zealand “Illegal Drug Harm Index” DPMP Drug Harm Index

4 Different purposes and metrics Purposes: ―Compare regions/states/countries (UNODC IDI) ―Performance monitoring (UK DHI) ―Compare drugs (Nutt) ―Establish societal benefits (social costs) (AFP) ―Compare policies (model scenarios) (DPMP) And use different metrics: # vs $

5 Different outcomes What is success? Reduction in number of users? Reductions in amount of use per user? Reductions in harm? Reductions in availability of drug (seizures, price, purity)?

6 The DPMP Drug Policy Index Comparison of different policies and their effects Purpose: To compare policy scenarios or options Objective measure of policy impacts Can compare disparate policy intervention types (law enforcement, treatment, prevention, harm reduction)

7 Our approach… Chosen outcomes ―Health consequences ―Crime consequences ―Labour market impacts ―Community outcomes Consequence x # of users Metric? = Social cost Why $? ―Unit that can be measured across diverse impacts ―Implicit “weighting” of consequences ―Intuitive for policy makers and community

8 Not one single index… “social cost” per user per year for Type of user ―Dependent users ―Non-dependent users Type of drug ―Cannabis ―Heroin ―Amphetamine ―Cocaine Amount of drug (kg, gram)

9 First estimates (by Tim Moore) 1.Estimate health, crime and road accident costs Dependent users; non-dependent users Drug types (cannabis, heroin, amphetamine) 2.Estimate prevalence Numbers of users 3.Estimate consumption (kg, grams) 4.Social cost per user per year (1x2) 5.Social cost per kg per year (1x2x3) 6.Sensitivity analyses

10 Results: cost per user

11 Results: cost per kg Moore, T. (2007) Monograph No. 14: Working estimates of the social costs per gram and per user for cannabis, cocaine, opiates and amphetamines, in DPMP Monograph Series. National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre: Sydney. Available at:

12 Feasibility assessment Usefulness of the figures in policy analysis ―Cannabis intervention ―Methamphetamine: treatment vs law enforcement Key stakeholder impressions Methodological issues: ―Data problems ―Time scale and time lags ―Economic method: eg marginal costs, infrastructure costs ―Does not include “benefits” ―Does not deal with polydrug use, drug substitution ―Country specific (because social costs)

13 Concluding comments DPMP Index = comparison of policy options Other Indexes = other purposes Complicated work But worthwhile: interest and commitment ―Process of development invaluable to policy debates ―Measuring outcomes of policy vital for continuous improvement ∙Better policies ∙Better outcomes for drug users and the community

14 Further information Assoc Prof Alison Ritter Drug Policy Modelling Program, Director National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre UNSW, Sydney, NSW, 2052, Australia E: T: + 61 (2) DPMP website:


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