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Drug abuse and addiction are real problems in many schools throughout the country. Clearly, students, parents, and educators need to work together to address the problems that drug abuse presents to schools and communities. Unfortunately, more often than not, the government-sponsored programs aimed at solving these problems actually make them worse, while alienating students in the process.

Currently, the largest such program is the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program. While undoubtedly rooted in good intentions, the science shows that D.A.R.E. is not effective in achieving its stated goal of reducing student drug abuse. Even worse are reports of D.A.R.E. having a “boomerang” effect, actually increasing the prevalence of drug use among suburban children.

Perhaps it should be no wonder that a program that fosters a culture of fear and distrust between students and their drug counselors would be doomed to failure. As those of us know who went through it, the D.A.R.E program employs uniformed police officers – not health care professionals – to teach students about drugs. Rather than providing students with science-based information about drugs, the students are scared with horror stories about drug addiction.

Students need and deserve effective education and counseling that provide accurate, non-judgmental, science-based information about drugs. Educators should engender an atmosphere of trust with their students to discuss ways to reduce the harms associated with drug use, not try to scare them into abstinence by bringing in the police.

Check out the links in the sidebar for more information/resources and to find out what you can do help ensure that schools are implementing effective and honest drug education and counseling programs.