Real Drug Education

At the Drug Policy Alliance, we believe accurate, honest, compassionate drug education is a right for all young people.

Abstinence-Only Drug Education Doesn’t Work

Most schools in the United States provide drug education programs that are based in abstinence-only logic despite its weaknesses. Programs like D.A.R.E. don’t give students the tools they need to make safe decisions or to get help if problems with alcohol and other drugs do occur.

Furthermore, abstinence-only education too often has the effect of making teenagers cynical about any drug information coming from adults.

We know that some young people do use drugs. So any approach to drug education that focuses on keeping kids safe must not only encourage young people to avoid drugs, but must also provide information on how young people can reduce risk if they or their friends do use drugs.

Providing Teens with Honest Drug Education

DPA champions the following drug education principles:

  • The safest path for teens is to avoid drugs, including alcohol, cigarettes, and prescription drugs outside of a doctor’s recommendations.
  • Some youth will choose to try drugs, regardless of the risks.  In order to reduce potential harm, we must teach young people strategies for keeping themselves and their friends safer when they do encounter drugs.
  • Drug education should be:
    • scientifically accurate;
    • honest, not seeking to minimize or exaggerate the risks of drugs, acknowledging the fact that not all drugs carry the same risks;
    • interactive; and
    • compassionate, taking into account that some youth will have used and/or sold drugs – or have close friends and family members who have.

DPA’s Work

The Drug Policy Alliance has resources for educators and parents to help them talk to teens about drugs.

  • Beyond Zero Tolerance is a comprehensive, cost-effective approach to high school drug education and student assistance that is all about helping teenagers by bolstering the student community and educational environment. This unique approach combines education, interaction, assistance when needed, and restorative practices.
  • Safety First: A Reality-Based Approach to Teens and Drugs provides parents with the tools needed to evaluate and discuss strategies for protecting their teenagers from drug abuse.

Share: