Educational drug programs have existed since the 1800s, when worries over alcohol abuse provoked the formal instruction efforts. Groups feel that substance abuse rates can only get worse unless students are shown how to evade the dangers.   Many respond that such programs have a varied record, of deterring students’ feeling to abuse drugs — especially in a culture where contradictory pop culture and social connotations are conclusive in determining the behavior of youth.

Methods

Most drug education programs are founded on the idea that substance abuse is either a personal failing, or comes from social pressures that students can be taught to resist.  Yet, these models do not reflect the mixed messages that society typically endorses, like promoting alcohol as part of having fun, while cautioning young people against using it. Melodramatic claims also continue to be used, too, although nothing suggests that this approach works any better.

Benefits

According to the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Drug-Free Schools they believe local districts should educate against drug abuse, and that effective anti-drug programs should address early risk factors of future abuse like poor social skills and aggressive behavior. When students enter middle and high school, drug education curricula should emphasize the values of personal commitment and positive decision-making skills, as well as adjusting misunderstandings about the scope of peer’s using drugs.

Fears

There is constantly a question of the effectiveness of the nation’s most widely disseminated program, DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), which local police officers teach. The program has been acclaimed for improving anger management, social skills and substance abuse knowledge in students.  Other research has concluded that the program’s ability to reduce drug abuse is small or unidentifiable, and dissolves within one to two years of students’ partaking.

Other things to consider

The drug education criticizers say that it’s time to get students reflecting on the social forces that shape such behavior and how it affects them. For example, kids describing how drug abuse influences behavior would have to come up with their own examples, instead of taking them from a handout. Many believe that this model is more realistic than a continual overemphasis on peer pressure, which leaves students feeling more isolated than ever.

Some Programs being offered to schools as a DARE alternative

Narconon

Narconon, an international non-profit drug rehabilitation and prevention organization, believe they are losing the battle to save children from a future of substance abuse.  As of 2009, more twelfth graders were smoking marijuana than were smoking cigarettes. Marijuana statistics continue to go up along with usage statistics for of heroin, Ecstasy and OxyContin. This is a trend that must be reversed if we are to enable our children to grow up strong and capable.

Narconon developed a comprehensive drug education curriculum with the objective of knowing the real effects they risk if they decide to use drugs.  In their research it’s been found that young people who gain knowledge and understanding in this area more often make the decision to stay away from drug use.  When Narconon goes to a school, their educators provide information that students can relate to and easily see demonstrated in real life.  The Narconon educators are specifically trained to present the information in such a way that the audiences are willing to receive it, and   the facts are presented but the members of the audience are allowed to and encouraged to arrive at their own conclusions.

How is Narconon different to other drug education programs

Narconon staff first looked over where drug education efforts had failed in the past. The basic method used before in drug education had been a more scare tactic approach. It did not work and in many cases continued drug use by presenting information that was easily discredited. Then came an opposite approach, which many called harm reduction method, which takes the indifferent approach that people are going to use drugs no matter what, therefore they should be taught how to use them safely.

The basis of the Narconon program is that once a young person or adult truly understands the consequences to using drugs, as it relates to their life and those around them, they usually make the rational decision not to use them.  It is HOW this information is presented that is the key.

The key to Narconon’s success is both in the content and delivery of the program. Their interactive presentations and practical sessions contain simple, true information about the physical and mental effects of drugs, as well as other social issues related to drug use. The delivery of the program includes hands-on demonstration of the material with plenty of real life application.  The approach is to educate children to come to a conclusion on their own, and more importantly, show them how to say no and what exactly they are saying no to.

The Narconon drug education presentations are divided into several subjects. They are geared to the appropriate age groups and focus on the real life situations that often lead to drug use.  They are as follows:

  • The physical effects of drugs on the body
  • How drugs affect the mind
  • Marijuana-The myth
  • The Truth about Ecstasy
  • The Truth about Methamphetamines
  • Drugs and Alcohol; how the media affects young people
  • Tobacco, smoking and your health
  • LSD-One of today’s most dangerous drugs
  • Establishing and achieving goals in life-how this eliminates the desire for drugs
  • Peer pressure and resisting drug use
  • Addiction-how it starts and what keeps a person addicted
  • How emotions play a role in drug use