Investigators at RAND Corporation used mathematical modeling to estimate the cost effectiveness of school-based cocaine prevention programs compared with other broad categories of drug control.
The investigators examined the results of two school-based prevention programs that research has shown to be effective.
Key Findings: The investigators reported their findings in a book, An Ounce of Prevention, a Pound of Uncertainty: The Cost-Effectiveness of School-Based Drug Prevention Programs:
- School-based prevention can reduce lifetime cocaine consumption by 2 to 11 percent. Although these effects are small, prevention programs are inexpensive and are therefore more cost-effective than many enforcement strategies.
- Cocaine treatment, however, appears more cost-effective than either prevention or enforcement.
- School-based prevention programs have significant benefits that extend beyond the prevention of cocaine abuse. These benefits include:
- Reductions in cigarette and alcohol consumption.
- A spillover effect in which people not in the prevention program also reduce their drug use.
- Although school-based prevention exhibits a respectable level of cost-effectiveness, an overwhelming investment in the prevention component of cocaine control compared with other cocaine-control strategies may not be justified.