SimDrug: Exploring the complexity of illicit drug markets

Pascal Perez, Anne Dray, A. Ritter, P. Dietze, T. Moore, L. Mazerolle

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review


Worldwide, illicit drug use and markets can be described as ill-defined, complex, and adaptive systems. Authorities relentlessly try to reduce harm inflicted to individuals and society. But, so far, they struggle to find the right balance between three traditional modes of intervention: law enforcement, treatment, or prevention. In Australia, the period called "the heroin drought" (Dec200-Feb2001) provides a striking example of complex interactions between open activities and hidden forces. The features of the agent-based model, called SimDrug, include a spatial environment and social agents. The environment is an archetypal representation of an urban center. Each elementary spatial unit corresponds to a street block. Five suburbs were created with different sizes and shapes. SimDrug includes different types of social agents: users, dealers, wholesalers, police constables, and outreach workers. Each type represents a minimum set of characteristics and dynamics that allows the whole artificial population to display most of the properties observed in real societies. We have taken 1998-2002 as the reference period. In terms of validation, this time bracket gives us the opportunity to test the robustness of the model by comparing a series of micro (agent level) and macro (system level) indicators with corresponding observed data. The model must be able to consistently reproduce pre-drought, crisis, and post-drought dynamics of the system. The transdisciplinary work plays a paramount role in defining a consensual set of simplified rules for the corresponding agent to ‘behave’ realistically. SimDrug has demonstrated the plausibility of using a multi-agent system model to describe the relationships between law enforcement, treatment, and prevention programs. The model is robust and later versions should assist Policy makers to determine potential scenarios as a result of their intervention.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication50th Annual Meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences 2006, ISSS 2006
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
PublisherInternational Society for the Systems Sciences
Number of pages23
ISBN (Print)9781622767557
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2006
Externally publishedYes
EventAnnual Meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences 2006, ISSS 2006 - Rohnert Park, United States of America
Duration: 9 Jul 200614 Jul 2006
Conference number: 50th (Curran Associates Proceedings)

Publication series

NameProceedings of the International Society for the Systems Sciences
PublisherInternational Society for the Systems Sciences
ISSN (Print)1999-6918


ConferenceAnnual Meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences 2006, ISSS 2006
Abbreviated titleISSS 2006
Country/TerritoryUnited States of America
CityRohnert Park
Internet address

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