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Why the DARE Program Ultimately Fails 17 Apr 2018

Why the DARE Program Ultimately Fails

Pretty much everyone born after the 80’s can recall gathering in their middle school gymnasiums and auditoriums to sit through the DARE program presentations. Most of the people who are now in their twenties and thirties look back on the program almost as a joke. Which is rather unfortunate, because when all is said and done, the DARE Program really could have the opportunity to create some change in the way students see and interact with drug and alcohol use.

A 2009 report by the Department of Justice found that no significant long-term improvements in teen substance abuse were made by DARE Programs.

So why doesn’t it? What is it about the DARE Programs that just doesn’t have any lasting effect? If they changed their approach, could they have the power to really make a difference?

The Downfalls

According to the official DARE program website,

“If you were one of millions of children who completed the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program, or D.A.R.E., between 1983 and 2009, you may be surprised to learn that scientists have repeatedly shown that the program did not work. Despite being the nation’s most popular substance-abuse prevention program, D.A.R.E. did not make you less likely to become a drug addict or even to refuse that first beer from your friends.”

According to the nonprofit organization, the major reason why the program did not work, is because it was created as a way to curb substance use, but had no groundings in actual prevention methods.

Just Say No Doesn’t Cut It

There is no doubt that all of the “Just Say No” campaigns had literally zero long-term effect on the rates of drug use in the United States. Sure, they might be catchy enough to stick in the brains of children of elementary age for some time, but when faced with the pressures of social conformity, if you’re in middle or high school and a cool kid passes you a drink or a joint, the chances of caving in are pretty high.

In fact, it is statistically more likely to just say yes than it is to say no. Especially in the drug and alcohol ridden media world, we are now living in. Getting high is pretty much the cool thing to do, especially when it comes to party drugs like alcohol, Xanax, and molly.

So, considering the DARE Program has been pretty much entirely run off of the construct of Just Say No, their chances of creating a lasting effect are scarce.

Police are the Face of the Program

In its beginning, the program was created by police officers and school teachers. Today, police officers are primarily the faces of the programs when they are brought into schools. However, in many parts of the country, and especially over the last two decades, police have begun to no longer be seen as the “heroes” of their communities, and especially in rural or underprivileged areas, they are almost seen as the enemy.

For children who are aware of the divide that has taken place between police and civilians (which is actually quite high since most children and teens have complete access to the news and media via the internet), it is probably pretty difficult to take a police officer seriously. Especially if there is a person dressed up in a lion costume on stage with them.

Lectures are Boring

It is no secret that children have a hard time sitting still for long periods of time. The DARE Program, for the last 30 years, has generally consisted of a 45-minute long lecture design where they would be bombarded with all of the dangers of using drugs and alcohol.

Talk about a great way to lose a kids attention, especially because many of the children are in elementary or middle school, and haven’t even seen drugs in their lives yet. It is hard for children to relate to not using something when they haven’t even come in contact with that something yet.

What Could Be Changed?

So, it’s pretty much proven that the DARE Program is inefficient, even according to themselves! So after a slew of research was done proving that fact, the organization realized that their approach had nothing to do with the actual decision-making process that went into prevention.

So, with the help of a team of “prevention scientists,” the nonprofit organization has restructured their approach to, hopefully, help put an end to teenage substance use. What is now called, “Keepin’ it REAL” focuses more on interactive decision making, rather than the previous lecture style the DARE Program previously relied on.

According to one of the co-developers and researchers from Chapman University, Michelle Miller-Day,” It’s not an anti-drug program. It’s about things like being honest and safe and responsible.”

According to the results from the early trials, the new format has had some effect on reducing the rates of substance use and increased anti-drug attitudes among students who were in involved, although the organization did not provide the findings of their data.

Keepin’ it REAL

Through interactive role play in which the students get to participate in situations and stories in which they would practice saying no to friends, the revamped DARE Program focuses on four major ways to turn away from drugs and alcohol.

These methods are: Refuse, Explain, Avoid, and Leave (REAL). The idea is, that by getting the opportunity to practice the act of saying no to friends and other students, the experience will transfer over to real life when the time comes.

In order to track the results, researchers handed out questionnaires to 6,000 students about alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana use. According to the researchers, those students who had participated in the keepin’ it REAL program experimented with substances less than those who had not. However, this study was performed on middle schoolers in 2003, and the current drug trends show that maybe their methods did not have the lasting effect that they were hoping for.

A Better Solution?

While the main goal of the DARE Program is amenable, in today’s society, it seems to have little or no lasting effects. Instead of focusing on ways to revamp Just Say No campaigns, a better idea would be to teach children how to identify their feelings in this mixed up world, or how to communicate effectively with their parents and guardians to keep an open line of trust and understanding in the household.

Freedom From Addiction

If you or a loved one is suffering from alcoholism or addiction, understand that you are not alone in your struggles! If you are ready to change your life and finally be free of your addiction, then Holistic Recovery Centers can help. We can give you the jump start you need in order to experience the recovery you have always wanted. Our holistic programs are unique in that they don’t just treat the addiction, but rather they treat the whole person, so if you are interested in finding out more information, please do not hesitate to give us a call today at 1-877-723-7117.

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