Pubdate: Tue, 07 May 2002
Source: Daily Advertiser, The (LA)
Copyright: 2002 South Louisiana Publishing
Author: Robert Sharpe


In their recent letter to the editor, Lt. Julie Harmon and Sgt. Debbie 
Haynes ask if Gov. Mike Foster's decision to eliminate funding for the Drug 
Abuse Resistance Education program is a step backward.

Good intentions are no substitute for effective drug 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 must be reality-based or they may backfire.

The importance of parental involvement in reducing adolescent drug use 
cannot be overstated. School-based extracurricular activities have also 
been shown to reduce drug use by keeping 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 often 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 No. 1 drug problem.

Robert Sharpe

Program Officer

Drug Policy Alliance

Washington, D.C.
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