D.A.R.E.’s Story as a Leader in Drug Prevention Education
Recognizing that enforcement alone will never curtail the use and abuse of illicit drugs, a partnership was established between the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) in 1983 to create a new drug resistance education program for elementary school students.
Because few drug prevention curricula were available for schools to adopt at that time, Dr. Ruth Rich, Health Education Curriculum Administrator for the LAUSD, developed the original 17-lesson elementary school D.A.R.E. curriculum. The new curriculum, based upon prevailing prevention science at the time, emphasized teaching specific information about specific drugs and their negative effects.
Unlike all other drug prevention curricula, LAPD police officers were trained to teach the D.A.R.E. curriculum, thereby putting a local, “human face” on drug prevention in schools.
The original D.A.R.E. curriculum was more non-interactive than interactive. While discussion was encouraged, the prevailing approach in the original curriculum involved the D.A.R.E. Officer teaching each lesson.
At the time, virtually no classroom teachers had received instruction in their college courses about drug use/abuse or any instruction on how to deliver drug prevention lessons. Increasing acknowledgment of D.A.R.E. and the fact that LAPD D.A.R.E. officers could train other “local” law enforcement officers to deliver the original 17-lesson D.A.R.E. curriculum resulted in the rapid and widespread adoption of D.A.R.E. throughout the country and around the world over the next ten years.
With the widespread demand for drug prevention in schools, D.A.R.E. provided a local, well-respected resource/supply (local D.A.R.E. officers) to meet the demand.
The demand for D.A.R.E. training and program implementation resulted in the creation of D.A.R.E.’s national/international substance abuse prevention dissemination infrastructure, which remains to this day a state-of-the-art standard for other prevention endeavors to emulate.
In 1984, D.A.R.E. created and implemented a middle-school curriculum. In 1989, D.A.R.E. introduced a high school curriculum.
Recognizing the strong national demand for the program, D.A.R.E. America is founded in 1989 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization to oversee curriculum and other program development, facilitate program expansion, program quality control and accountability, and serve as a fundraising vehicle to support its activities.
National Drug & Alcohol Facts Week 2019
NDAFW is a national health observance designed to equip schools and communities with the materials and tools they need to educate young people about the effects of drugs on their brain, body and behavior. Now in its ninth year, NDAFW will be held from January 22—27, 2019.
All around the country, guidance counselors, teachers, school resource officers, social workers, drug prevention programs, colleges, health care providers, and community support programs are using the science-based information available FREE from NIDA— an institute within the National Institutes of Health supporting most of the world’s research on the health aspects of drug use and addiction— in educational events designed to equip young people to make informed choices about drugs and alcohol.
This year, National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week is expecting more than 2000 events to be held around the country and world. These events range in size and scope, but they focus on educating young people about drug and alcohol use and their consequences. Event participants range from kindergarteners to college students.
Some event ideas include:
- A panel discussion with local law enforcement, substance abuse counselors, or individuals affected by drug abuse.
- A graffiti fact wall
- A trivia night or bingo game
- A social media campaign
- A school assembly
- An addiction-themed art contest
- A contest during halftime at a sports game
Does the DARE Program Work?
The D.A.R.E. Program 101
The catchy “Just Say No” slogan has served to keep D.A.R.E. recognizable among children and adults alike for more than three decades. However, the promise of those words may not hold up under a microscope. For that reason, many school districts have begun to pull the program from their students’ school-year experience in recent years. As a result, the organization endeavored to draw attention to a new campaign that would pull focus away from drugs and onto character development. The decline of school participation led to a great income deficit, too, which declined from $10 million in revenue in 2002 to just $3.7 million in 2010.
Traditionally, personal safety is the core focus of lessons taught up through 4th grade, but subsequent ones will reinforce those lessons and tackle harder issues, like anger management and coping techniques that don’t involve self-medication and substance abuse. These new developments to the program have yet to show an increase in efficacy.
There are numerous studies that have churned out results that don’t support the program as a drug abuse deterrent. The results of more than 30 such studies note that D.A.R.E. didn’t serve to deter students from using drugs in the short-term, nor when they reached their high school or college years. Citing minimal effects on drug use, one study noted a decreased likelihood of utilizing learned curricula from the program over time. In 1994, the first study of its kind pointed out only scant benefits when it came to short-term decreases in D.A.R.E. students’ use of tobacco, but marijuana and alcohol use did not decrease.
When it comes to marijuana specifically, 5.8 percent of 8th graders, 13.8 percent of 10th graders, and 19.4 percent of seniors were using it in 2008. Just five years later, those figures increased to 7 percent, 18 percent, and 22.7 percent.
Another study produced alarming results with D.A.R.E students showing a 29 percent increase in drug use and 34 percent increase in tobacco use. Perhaps one of the most disheartening studies completed on the D.A.R.E. program was one that spanned more than a decade. Participants filled out a survey on their substance use when they were 10 years old and again when they were 20 years old. Those who completed D.A.R.E. were no less likely to smoke cannabis or tobacco, drink alcohol, use illicit drugs, or succumb to peer pressure than their non-D.A.R.E. peers. Even more worrisome, those who did participate in the program correlated with a high incidence of low self-esteem later in life.
Some antagonists of the program have questioned whether the officers teaching the lessons are the best for the job and if their training is extensive enough. There has been talk of a joint effort in the future by both law enforcement and addiction professionals, such as counselors, but for the time being, the former continues to educate the masses on their own. By 2013, some 70,000 officers had been D.A.R.E. educators.
Addiction comprises a physical and psychological dependency on a substance that can be impossible to escape without professional help. This is perhaps even more so the case for the young addict. Since its conception, the D.A.R.E. program has seemingly wavered between success and failure in achieving its goal of decreasing drug abuse. A 1998 study noted a 50 percent decreased likelihood of high-risk drug use among students who participated in the D.A.R.E. program.Meanwhile, research is plentiful that points in the other direction. Between 1992 and 1995, there was a 59 percent increase of illegal drug use among high school seniors, and a 92 percent increase among 8th graders who reported lifetime use of marijuana between 1991 and 1995.
So what exactly was D.A.R.E. contributing while these numbers were steadily rising? Some sobering realities about the American youth include:
- 36 percent of American teenagers have used alcohol by the time they enter 8th grade
- 71 percent of teens have used alcohol by their senior year of high school
- By 8th grade, 21 percent of teens have used an illegal drug
- By 12th grade, that number spikes to more than 48 percent
D.A.R.E. DRUG FACTS
A drug is any substance other than food that can affect the way your mind and body work. Certain drugs called mind-altering drugs can change the way a person thinks, feels, and acts.
Drugs that speed up a person are called stimulants .
Drugs that slow a person down are called depressants .
Drugs that change the ways a person sees, feels, and hears are called hallucinogens .
Young people usually use mind-altering drugs, probably because they are not sure of themselves. They feel if they take these drugs they will be accepted by the “in” people. Or some might feel if they take these drugs, they will feel better about themselves. Some of these drugs that children are using are:
- This is a substance found in cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and snuff that is very addicting. People have a lot of trouble when they try to quit smoking cigarettes. The best way to stop is never to start.
- Nicotine is a stimulant and increases the heart rate. This causes the blood vessels to narrow and then the heart has to work harder. The tar found in cigarettes has been proven to cause cancer, usually of the lungs but it can also affect other organs. Cancer is a leading cause of death in the United States today. The D.A.R.E. booklet says that the number of people who die each day from smoking cigarettes is the same as two full jumbo jets crashing without any saved lives.
- Passive smoke is also proven to be dangerous to your health.
- Alcohol is made from the fermenting of fruits, grains, or any food with a high sugar content.
- Alcohol is a depressant that is absorbed into the bloodstream through the stomach and intestines. Abuse of alcohol can cause damage to your internal organs, such as the liver. It is the cause of a large number of deaths or disabilities each year. Drinking alcohol can cause:
Loss of coordination;
Increase in violence (destructive acts);
Inability to learn and remember;
Trouble with other people.
- Marijuana is known by a lot of other names, such as grass, pot, weed and reefers. Most people think it is a depressant, because of the lethargy it causes. Its primary active substance is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
- Marijuana produces a state of altered consciousness with feelings of detachment (wanting to be alone) and silliness. Generally, it causes:
Short attention span;
Inability to think;
Changes in sense of time and space.
- Marijuana isn’t a real chemically addictive drug, but you can still become used to its effect. After using it for a long time, you can:
|Have difficulty remembering what you have learned or what you know to be real;|
Become slow and dull;
Have low ambition;
Become dependent upon it.
- Cocaine is a highly addicting stimulant . It is made from the leaves of the coca plant. In South America some natives chew the leaves. When mixed with the saliva, cocaine is created. It can be snorted through the nose, smoked when it is changed into crystals, or injected into the body.
- Like all stimulants, cocaine will increase your heart rate, but to dangerous degrees. It has been known to create breathing problems and heart attacks. Also, if you snort cocaine, you can damage the lining in your nose.
- Cocaine can cause you to become confused, unable to think clearly, and short-tempered and moody.
- Since cocaine is so addictive and alters your mind, when people run out of their drug they will do crazy things to get money to buy more. The news is filled with stories about how someone was murdered for drugs.
- Inhalants are any kind of chemical substances that can be inhaled or sniffed to create a personality change (altered behavior). They include glue, paints and thinners, gasoline, substances in any aerosol cans such as PAM.
- The word inhalant itself means that you are putting your lungs in danger. If you use inhalants long enough, you can also cause permanent damage to your liver and other body parts. Just recently a NW Indiana teenager died when he inhaled PAM.
- Inhalants can also be chemically and emotionally addictive.