The Economics of Drug Abuse: a Quantitative Assessment of Drug Demand

  1. Steven R. Hursh1,
  2. Chad M. Galuska2,
  3. Gail Winger2 and
  4. James H. Woods2
  1. 1Science Applications International Corporation, Abingdon, MD;
  2. 2Department of Pharmacology, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, MI


Behavioral economic concepts have proven useful for an overall understanding of the regulation of behavior by environmental commodities and complements a pharmacological perspective on drug abuse in several ways. First, a quantitative assessment of drug demand, equated in terms of drug potency, allows meaningful comparisons to be made among drug reinforcers within and across pharmacological classes. Second, behavioral economics provides a conceptual framework for understanding key factors, both pharmacological and environmental, that contribute to reductions in consumption of illicit drugs. Finally, behavioral economics provides a basis for generalization from laboratory and clinical studies to the development of novel behavioral and pharmacological therapies.


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