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What Ever Happened to D.A.R.E?

Addiction Treatment
Jan Trobisch

Jan Trobisch

What Ever Happened to D.A.R.E?
Established in 1983 by the Los Angeles Unified School District and one-time LAPD police chief Daryl Gates, the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program endeavored to end America’s War on Drugs by encouraging kids to sign pledges not to use drugs or become gang members. In addition, D.A.R.E. kids were expected to inform their local police department about suspected drug and/or gang activity in their neighborhoods.

D.A.R.E. program instructors are police officers who take a training course in child development, communication and teaching methods. School districts invite D.A.R.E. instructors to speak to elementary, middle and high school students about the dangers of drug use and gang activity. Kids who sign the D.A.R.E. pledge receive t-shirts and other items displaying the D.A.R.E emblem.

D.A.R.E. Program Effectiveness
By the mid 1990s, research regarding the effectiveness of the D.A.R.E program revealed evidence of D.A.R.E. program failure. In fact, the National Institute of Justice and the University of Maryland collaborated to produce a comprehensive report that found “D.A.R.E. does not work to help reduce drug use

Another study in 1998 produced startling information about the high likelihood of D.A.R.E. graduates to eventually use drugs, smoke and drink alcohol. A longitudinal study concluded in 2006 by the American Psychological Association reported that although D.A.R.E. program students seemed to curtail drug use shortly after entering the program, D.A.R.E. failed to exert long-term effects on student attitudes about substance abuse.

Why Has the D.A.R.E. Program Failed to Curb Substance Abuse?
Critics of the D.A.R.E. program assert that D.A.R.E. inadvertently glamorizes the world of drugs by making it appear interesting and exciting. D.A.R.E. has police officers in full uniform (including guns, Tasers and batons) arriving in seized drug cars, describing gang life and giving away all kinds of free items to get the attention of students. Psychologists say this reinforces the “forbidden fruit  effect that unintentionally makes drug use appealing.

Other reasons for D.A.R.E. program failure include:

  • Self-fulfilling prophecy message:A.R.E. instructors tell students that if they try drugs, they are automatically addicts and on the way to ruining their lives.
  • Lack of credibility:A.R.E. attempts to lump occasional drinking and tobacco smoking with dangerous drugs. This type of fear-mongering actually pushes away students who know more than what they are credited with knowing.
  • Anti-drug talk increases curiosity: Adolescents are naturally curious and exhibit risk-taking behaviors as part of maturing. Kids are unable to integrate D.A.R.E.’s all-or-nothing approach into their lifestyle

Today, the D.A.R.E. program continues to be taught in over 40 countries and all 50 U.S. states. However, it has incorporated a new curriculum for elementary and middle school students called “keepin’ it REAL,” which is listed on the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP).

For more information about drug addiction and preventing substance abuse, call Synergy Recovery Services today to speak to an experienced staff member.

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