Pubdate: Tue, 23 Jul 2002
Source: Herald-Times, The (IN)
Copyright: 2002 The Herald-Times
Author: Robert Sharpe


To the editor:

Cindy Houston offered excellent advice on preventing adolescent drug use in 
her July 11 column. The importance of parental involvement in reducing drug 
use cannot be overstated. 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 by 
parents. 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 the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program. Good intentions are no 
substitute for effective 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 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 need to be 
reality-based or they may backfire when kids are inevitably exposed to drug 
use among their peers.

Robert Sharpe

Drug Policy Alliance

Washington, D.C.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Beth