Pubdate: Mon, 17 Jun 2002
Source: Charleston Daily Mail (WV)
Copyright: 2002 Charleston Daily Mail
Author: Robert Sharpe


Regarding the Daily Mail's May 31 article on the Drug Abuse Resistance 
Education program, Charleston educators need to consider that good 
intentions are no substitute for effective drug education. Every 
independent, methodologically sound evaluation of D.A.R.E. has found the 
program to be either ineffective or counterproductive.

The scare tactics used do more harm than good. Students who realize they've 
been lied to about marijuana often make the mistake of assuming that harder 
drugs like methamphetamines are relatively harmless as well. This is a 
recipe for disaster. Drug education programs must be reality-based or they 
may backfire when kids are inevitably exposed to drug use among their peers.

The importance of parental involvement in reducing adolescent drug use 
cannot be overstated. School-based extracurricular activities have also 
been shown to reduce drug use by keeping kids busy during the hours they're 
most prone to getting into trouble.

For drug education to be effective it has to be credible. The most popular 
recreational drug and the one most closely associated with violent behavior 
is often overlooked. That drug is alcohol, and it takes far more lives 
every year than all illegal drugs combined.

Alcohol may be legal, but it's still the number one drug problem.

Robert Sharpe Arlington, Va.

Sharpe is MPA Program officer for the Drug Policy Alliance in Washington, 
D.C. His e-mail address is
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