Pubdate: Wed, 13 Jul 2005
Source: Saanich News (CN BC)
Author: Jim Hackler


There are programs that could reduce the use of crystal meth. But 
they will probably be ignored. Successful programs tend to be long 
term and universal. Failed programs usually attempt quick fixes and 
focus on a narrow target.

Politicians and the public prefer quick fixes, even though they may 
do harm in the long run.

One successful program utilized public health nurses to help 
pregnant, disadvantaged women become better mothers.

Fifteen years later, when compared with control groups, these 
families had much lower rates of drug use, delinquency, and risky 
sexual behaviour. But we are unwilling to invest in the future, even 
though it costs less and is more effective at reducing human 
suffering. We prefer to deceive ourselves into thinking that quick fixes work.

Of course we mean well. Naturally, we want action, not talk." In 
quick fix programs, parents usually think they have been helped.

Youth often believe they were saved." Professionals staffing the 
program sincerely believe the treatment worked. In the short run, 
everyone labels the program a success. Politicians take credit for 
displaying leadership."

Congratulatory speeches, awards, publicity, all add to the bandwagon 
effect. A careful evaluation using a control group and follow-up 
several years later will not be done. Self-deception is easy to achieve.

Unfortunately, families involved in such programs may believe crystal 
meth can be addressed separately from other problems. They may learn 
to blame others when things go wrong. The quick fix" program often 
leaves parents poorly prepared for the next crisis.

By contrast, some programs, such as Parents Together, at the Boys and 
Girls Club, recognize that problems come in packages. Drugs, family 
difficulties, delinquency, and risky behaviour tend to be 
interrelated. It is hard to separate them. While no long term, 
scientific evaluation of the effectiveness of Parents Together is 
planned, they share at least one characteristic of successful programs.

Families that have been strengthened to cope with the whole host of 
interconnected problems seem to handle the next crisis better.

Jim Hackler

Deptartment of Sociology UVic 
- ---
MAP posted-by: Beth