Do Drug Prevention Programs Work?

It’s estimated that drug prevention programs such as D.A.R.E cost over $200 million dollars to run annually across the country, but do these drug prevention programs actually work?

D.A.R.E is one of the most popular drug prevention programs, that has gained national exposure since the mid 1980′s. They provide classrooms and students with many activities, ranging from police visiting to talk with students to education materials. While the program is highly acclaimed, millions of teens still are at risk for trying drugs or alcohol.

The National Ad Council is another organization that also runs several public service announcement campaigns, usually through television and radio advertising. While they claim their campaigns have been effective since 1992, there were over 13,000 drunk driving related deaths in 2007 that could prove otherwise.

Other government funded commercials for using drugs have cost taxpayers millions of dollars, and again with no proof in numbers results of it being effective.

Many schools, who have not seen results with traditional drug prevention programs, have turned instead to random student drug testing. This is a highly controversial topic, since many feel as if it is an invasion of their privacy or creates distrust between students and school staff. It can also be costly – ranging between $10-$30 for a drug test can quickly add up. If you tested 100 students a year in a class, the cost could be between $1000-$3000, not to mention many students would also possibly slide through the system and never be tested at all. To drug test every student in random intervals throughout the school year would cost a school with 1000 students cost anywhere between $30,000-$60,000 a year.

Until we start seeing an actual significant proof of numbers, we can’t really say that drug preventions programs work and are effective. And that makes it very questionable as to why we continue to spend millions of federal and tax payer money on programs that have mostly shown to be ineffective.

If we agree that our drug prevention programs don’t work and are ineffective, the next step is to answer the question “How Could They Be More Effective?”

What are your thoughts on drug prevention programs? Do drug prevention programs work? Are they effective? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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