Pubdate: Thu, 29 Aug 2002
Source: Burlington Free Press (VT)
Copyright: 2002 Burlington Free Press
Author: Robert Sharpe


Anthony N. Iazzo's Aug. 23 "It's My Turn" offered excellent advice on 
preventing adolescent drug use. 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 No. 1 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 

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.

Program Officer
Drug Policy Alliance
Washington, D.C.
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