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5 Lies D.A.R.E. Told Me

Two of the biggest lies you will hear in this life are:

  • I’ve never played this game before — and —
  • Your check is in the mail (becoming less relevant daily).

Were you blessed with a visit from D.A.R.E. back in your school days? If so, here are five lies favored by our D.A.R.ing friends clothed in blue.

As we begin, I remind you that, up until recently, no one alive had ever heard a word of truth about the cannabis plant come out of the mouth of anyone in a position of authority. Strange, yes?


1. D.A.R.E. used to claim marijuana as being a “gateway drug” — claiming that marijuana use actually leads to subsequent abuse of more dangerous substances. There are a number of ways to explain the correlation between marijuana and other substance use. One being that people who smoke marijuana may just be the type of people who are interested in exploring other ways of getting faded. Or, another is that pot smokers, integrated into the illicit market, may be able to more easily locate other illegal substances. Or, possibly, weed is probably just the first drug American teenagers run into.

For what it’s worth, D.A.R.E. now points to tobacco and alcohol as the primary “gateway” drugs.

2. Hardline drug warriors think that drugs actually cause crime, and that cutting off the supply of drugs through strict enforcement will ultimately result in less crime. Unfortunately, there’s little to back this belief up. Repressive anti-drug policies can’t effectively deal with drug-related crime because the real causes of the violence are related to “governance and the rule of law,” not the actual drugs themselves.

Violence arises from high stakes competition in an illegal and unregulated market, and authorities can often accidentally aggravate the situation by destabilizing existing power structures. In other words, the strong correlation in modern societies between drugs and crime partially exists simply because drugs are illegal.

3. In the 1950’s and 1960’s, scientists were alarmed by a series of experiments in which laboratory rats were given unlimited doses of opiates. The rats wasted away, not even ingesting easily accessible food or water. The implications were ominous: What would happen if people became addicted like the rats? The takeaway was that drugs are so addictive that people need to be kept away from them at all costs.

But, the story wasn’t so clear-cut after all. Take heroin, for example — one of the most addictive drugs. Only 23% of users become dependent. By some measures, nicotine is more addictive. Evidence has repeatedly demonstrated that many Americans are able to kick their habits without going to drug or alcohol treatment, suggesting that a problem with alcohol or drugs isn’t the death sentence D.A.R.E. and other drug warriors told you in school.

4. Stories about acid flashbacks that haunted users for the rest of their lives were a staple of anti-drug lectures and propaganda for decades. But, just how common is the trip that never ends?

Some users of psychedelic drugs do report occasional flashbacks: brief, evocative sequences that invoke the illusion of tripping, usually just for a second or two. These can be disconcerting, but are typically mild and usually occur in a short time frame — within days — of taking drugs. They don’t persist with time and generally don’t interfere with a person’s life or psychological state.

5. By the late 90s, studies were showing that D.A.R.E. had minimal effects on drug use and might have actually been counterproductive. And, this was all despite a growing annual budget estimated at around $1 to $1.3 billion. In 2000, a federal judge ruled that charges in Rolling Stone and New Republic stories that the program was ineffective were “substantially true.” D.A.R.E.’s claims that all drugs are equally bad and that peer pressure and low self-esteem are major causes of drug use were being contested by serious research. Also being contested was the vaunted “Just Say No” approach, which relies on abstinence alone to keep kids off drugs.

The surgeon general classified D.A.R.E. as an “Ineffective Primary Prevention Programme” in 2001, and, by the program’s own estimate, it subsequently lost about 80% of its federal funding.

Find more detail at the original post, WHICH IS HERE.

The single best drug-lecture-story I ever heard supposedly happened in a Philadelphia high school in the early 1970s. Police had come to the school to give an anti-drug talk. Part of that talk included passing a joint around on a tray so the students — who were innocent, after all — could become familiar with what this dangerous thing looked like. Up and down the rows the tray passed. When the tray returned to the officer on the podium, it held one dozen joints. 

That’s such a great story; I really want it to be true. You decide.


[Image via: Google images “D.A.R.E.”]

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Author: DavidB

a heathen, but hopefully not an unenlightened one

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