Pubdate: Tue, 11 Jun 2002
Source: Lake City Reporter (FL)
Copyright: 2002sLake City Reporter
Author: Robert Sharpe


Beverly Johnson offers excellent advice and valid criticism in her June 5 
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 get 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, Program Officer

Drug Policy Alliance, Washington, D.C.
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