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Chaos in a predator–prey-based mathematical model for illicit drug consumption

Recently, a mathematical model describing the illicit drug consumption in a population consisting of drug users and non-users has been proposed. The model describes the dynamics of non-users, experimental users, recreational users, and addict users within a population. The aim of this work is to propose a modified version of this model by analogy with the classical predator-prey models, in particular considering non-users as prey and users as predator. Hence, our model includes a stabilizing effect of the growth rate of the prey, and a destabilizing effect of the predator saturation.

Functional responses of Verhulst and of Holling type II have been used for modeling these effects. To forecast the marijuana consumption in the states of Colorado and Washington, we used data from Hanley (2013) and a genetic algorithm to calibrate the parameters in our model. Assuming that the population of non-users increases in proportion with the demography, and following the seminal works of Sir Robert May (1976), we use the growth rate of non-users as the main bifurcation parameter.

For the state of Colorado, the model first exhibits a limit cycle, which agrees quite accurately with the reported periodic data in Hanley (2013). By further increasing the growth rate of non-users, the population then enters into two chaotic regions, within which the evolution of the variables becomes unpredictable. For the state of Washington, the model also exhibits a periodic solution, which is again in good agreement with observed data. A chaotic region for Washington is likewise observed in the bifurcation diagram.

Our research confirms that mathematical models can be a useful tool for better understanding illicit drug consumption, and for guiding policy-makers towards more effective policies to contain this epidemic.


J.M. Ginoux, R. Naeck, Y. Bibi-Ruhomally, M.Z. Dauhoo, M. PercChaos in a predator–prey-based mathematical model for illicit drug consumption, Applied Mathematics and Computation 347 (2019) 502-513

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