Pubdate: Fri, 28 Jun 2002
Source: Revelstoke Times Review (CN BC)
Copyright: 2002 Bowes Publishers
Author: Robert Sharpe


Editor's Note:

Although we never comment on letters to the editor we do occasionally 
preface them if their nature warrants it. The following is such a letter.

This letter was received via e-mail from an official of the Drug Policy 
Alliance in Washington, D.C., who had read Gregg Chamberlain's article, , 
that was published in last week's edition of the Revelstoke Times Review.

David F. Rooney Editor


While Canadian schools are just beginning to implement the Drug Abuse 
Resistance Education program, schools in the U.S. are dropping it. Good 
intentions are no substitute for effective drug education. Every 
independent, methodologically sound evaluation of DARE 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 
heroin 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. In order for drug education to be 
effective it has to be credible. The most popular recreational drug and the 
one most often 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 

References for various DARE studies can be found following my contact 

Robert Sharpe, M.P.A. Program Officer Drug Policy Alliance Washington, DC 


"Our results are consistent in documenting the absence of beneficial 
effects associated with the DARE program. This was true whether the outcome 
consisted of actual drug use or merely attitudes toward drug use. In 
addition, we examined processes that are the focus of intervention and 
purportedly mediate the impact of DARE (e.g., self-esteem and peer 
resistance), and these also failed to differentiate DARE participants from 
nonparticipants. Thus, consistent with the earlier Clayton et al. (1996) 
study, there appear to be no reliable short-term, long-term, early 
adolescent, or young adult positive outcomes associated with receiving the 
DARE intervention." Source: Lynam, Donald R., Milich, Richard, et al., 
"Project DARE: No Effects at 10-Year Follow-Up", Journal of Consulting and 
Clinical Psychology (Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 
August 1999), Vol. 67, No. 4, 590-593.

A federally funded Research Triangle Institute study of Drug Abuse 
Resistance Education (DARE) found that "DARE's core curriculum effect on 
drug use relative to whatever drug education (if any) was offered in the 
control schools is slight and, except for tobacco use, is not statistically 
significant." Source: Ennett, S.T., et al., "How Effective Is Drug Abuse 
Resistance Education? A Meta-Analysis of Project DARE Outcome Evaluations," 
American Journal of Public Health, 84: 1394-1401 (1994).

Dr. Dennis Rosenbaum, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, 
recently completed a six-year study of 1,798 students and found that "DARE 
had no long-term effects on a wide range of drug use measures"; DARE does 
not "prevent drug use at the stage in adolescent development when drugs 
become available and are widely used, namely during the high school years"; 
and that DARE may actually be counter productive. According to the study, 
"there is some evidence of a boomerang effect among suburban kids. That is, 
suburban students who were DARE graduates scored higher than suburban 
students in the Control group on all four major drug use measures." Source: 
Rosenbaum, Dennis, Assessing the Effects of School-based Drug Education: A 
Six Year Multilevel Analysis of Project DARE, Abstract (April 6, 1998).
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