This is a story about Ben. Ben was a drug addict. He started with weed, then Ecstasy, then LSD. He took large amounts of these drugs every day for two years until he “had a bad trip one night and went into toxic psychosis.” He heard voices, was shaking and couldn’t leave his home for six months. He became withdrawn from public spaces and ended up homeless on the streets, struggling to find food. This was him at rock bottom. At this point he decided yes he did want drugs, but he wanted life more.
This is a very extreme case but addictions like this can happen to anybody and can start at any age. To prevent things like this from happening to people, organizations have been formed to teach kids about the dangers of drug use.
The D.A.R.E. program (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) is a program that has taught kids about the effects of drugs and alcohol, refusing skills, and has created relationships between students and police officers. Its mission is to teach kids good decisions making skills. Its vision for the world is: “A world in which students everywhere are empowered to respect others and choose to lead lives free from violence, substance abuse, and other dangerous behaviors.” . This program, however, has become unpopular because people believe it is ineffective. It has become so unpopular that is has lost millions of dollars in funding and has been removed by majority of districts in 32 states.
Many people believe the D.A.R.E. program is ineffective because the negative attitudes towards drugs that the program teaches are usually lost within 1 to 2 years after the students finish the program. The US Department of Justice found this to be true and furthered it by saying D.A.R.E. is less successful at preventing drug use than other programs.
Although some people believe the D.A.R.E. program is ineffective and therefore not worthwhile, it is important to give students the opportunity to learn the skills and knowledge they can receive from the program.
Even though students often lose the negative attitudes towards drugs in 1-2 years, having them for those years can be valuable in their lives. In fact, most of what students are taught in school is eventually forgotten so this result should be expected. In high school, students are finalizing their character and who they are going to be for the rest of their lives. If within those four years a student is asked to do drugs and he refuses because he just had the D.A.R.E. program, then that shows that he learned to use the skills he was taught. It is important for kids to learn these essential skills so they can use them to make wise decisions later in life.
A study of D.A.R.E. was done and showed negative effects were caused by the program. This six-year study of D.A.R.E. showed that kids who participated in the program had actually increased in drug and alcohol use by 3-5% compared to kids who did not participate.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), however, found that there are no negative effects with the program and found D.A.R.E. scientifically proven to improve kids’ attitudes against substance abuse and resistance. It has also been found that there is a 19% reduction in thinking drugs are ok to use, and a larger use of the turn down strategies they teach in students who go through the program.
Nevertheless it is a common stereotype that high school students are notorious for not paying attention, making teaching them about drugs a complete waste of time. And even if they do listen, the program can be ineffective due to peer pressure and seeing family and friends use drugs or drink alcohol.
But many kids care about their futures and do listen. This program is very influential to kids and is praised by parents. “A 2007 survey showed 95% of 5,376 kids surveyed felt the program helped them “decide against using drugs in the future” and 99% of 3,095 parents surveyed showed “very positive support” for D.A.R.E. and felt their children “benefited from the program.””
In addition, this program is worth funding because it is creating relationships between students and police officers. A trust of the school police can be very valuable to a student. If a student trusts the police then they will feel more comfortable at school and be able to better focus and learn. A school official in Colorado said, “I think D.A.R.E. provides an opportunity for our young kids particularly to find out that officers can be a resource for protection, for answers for some questions, for direction, and for care.”
One the trust is established between a student and a police officer, sometimes the students will tattle on their parents who use the drugs, or over use alcohol, to the police. When they “narc” like this and are taken out of the home, some people argue that the family is ruined. I don’t see it that way. The family was ruined before the child tattled on their parents. It is no secret that marriages that have a partner involved in addictions are often unhappy. If a partner in a marriage is using drugs or drinking too often, the effect is felt by everyone around them including their kids. In this kind of family, there are no definite rules or order. The children have to be more self-reliant, and are more likely to become depressed, have anxiety, or low self-esteem. A child should not have to grow up in that kind of environment.
The skills and knowledge the program is giving the students are invaluable and if the students decide to use these skills they will greatly improve their lives. They will have lives free of addiction, create better homes for their children, and have a more promising future. “If D.A.R.E. can prevent even one child from becoming addicted to drugs or dying from a drug overdose then it is worth funding.”