Pubdate: Thu, 04 Jul 2002
Source: Burnaby Now, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2002 Lower Mainland Publishing Group Inc.
Author: Robert Sharpe



The Burnaby school district is to be commended for involving students in 
discussions on a new drug policy. Substance abuse is the only public health 
issue wherein key stakeholders are not only ignored but actively persecuted 
and incarcerated.

In addition to involving students, parents should be recruited to do their 
part. The importance of parental involvement in reducing drug use cannot be 

School-based extracurricular activities have also been shown to reduce drug 
use. They keep 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 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.

For decades, drug education has been dominated by sensationalist programs 
like Drug Abuse Resistance Education. While Canadian schools are just 
beginning to implement DARE, schools in the US are dropping it. Every 
independent, methodologically sound evaluation of DARE has found the 
program to be either ineffective or counterproductive.

DARE's scare tactics do more harm than good. Students who realize they are 
being 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.

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