Resource Type: Models

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Models are tools to aid thinking and to facilitate thoughtful policy debate.

We use the term “modelling” because we see the use of models as core integrating tools – capable of synthesising across drug policy domains, across disciplines and across stakeholder perspectives. The modelling approaches we are using include agent-based models, system dynamics, participative systems models, cost-benefit models, and hybrid models: combining two or more of these and other approaches. The models will allow policy-makers to explore the impacts of a range of policy options.

Agent-based models


DPMP has developed SimDrug, a simulation of illicit drug markets. It was created within the Cormas© platform. The program can be downloaded at

Relevant SimDrug references:
Perez, P. & Dray, A. (2005). Monograph No. 11: SimDrug: Exploring the complexity of heroin use in Melbourne. DPMP Monograph Series. Fitzroy: Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre. (Attached)

Perez, P. Dray, A., Ritter, A., Dietze, P., Moore, T. & Mazerolle, L. (2006). SimDrug: A Multi-Agent System Tackling the Complexity of Illicit Drug Markets in Australia. In P. Perez and D. Batten (Eds) Complex Science for a Complex World - Exploring Human Ecosystems with Agents (pp.193-224). Canberra: ANU E press.


SimDrugPolicing, a model designed to explore the relative impact of three law enforcement strategies - standard patrol, hot-spot policing and problem-oriented policing, has also been developed.

Relevant SimDrugPolicing reference:
Dray, A., Mazerolle, L., Perez, P., & Ritter, A. (2008). Drug Law Enforcement in an Agent-Based Model: Simulating the Disruption to Street-Level Drug Markets. In L. Liu and J. Eck (Eds.), Artificial Crime Analysis Systems: Using Computer Simulations and Geographic Information Systems (pp. 352-371). Idea Group Publishing: Hershey, PA.


SimHero examines how street-level drug markets adapt to a macro-level disruption to the supply of heroin, under three experimental conditions of street-level drug law enforcement: random patrol, hot-spot policing and problem-oriented policing. This model is able to explore the relative impact of abstractions of these three law enforcement strategies after simulating an "external shock" to the supply of heroin to the street-level drug market.

Relevant SimHero reference:
Dray, A., Mazerolle, L., Perez, P., & Ritter, A. (2008). Policing Australia's 'heroin drought': Using an agent-based model to simulate alternative outcomes. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 4(3), 267-287.


This ongoing project aims to model alcohol use and related social problem (e.g. violences, car/pedestrian accidents, crimes) in an urban area. Contact François Lamy for more information.

Other models

  • A stocks-and-flows model has been completed. The related article is listed below: Caulkins, J., Dietze, P., & Ritter, A. (2007). Dynamic Compartmental Model of Trends in Australia Drug Use. Health Care Management Science, 10, 151-162.
  • Systems thinking models are described in DPMP Monograph No. 13: Scoping the potential uses of systems thinking in developing poicy on illicit drugs by Gerald Midgley, Ann Winstanley, Wendy Gregory and Jeff Foote. (Attached)
  • An article detailing a cost-effectiveness model comparing pharmacotherapy treatment, prison and residential rehabilitation has been published. The full citation for the article can be found below: Moore, T., Ritter, A. & Caulkins, J. (2007). The costs and consequences of three policy options for reducing heroin dependency. Drug and Alcohol Review, 26(4), 369-378.
  • System dynamics models have been used in the development of: 
    • a protoype National Cannabis Diversion Model. Contact Caitlin Hughes for details.
    • a model of Australia's pharmacotherapy service system. For more details refer to the ANCD research papers #18 and #19.
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