Does Drug Education Really Work?

he effectiveness of drug education is something that has caused many heated debates and controversy over the years. Lots of people believe that it is a waste of time as the number of recorded drug users has shown little change over the past 30 years. However drug education’s lack of impact is often put down to the approach, but will an overhaul of the methods used to teach, actually produce a different outcome? With cuts being forced upon the education system, is drug education a viable way to spend taxpayers money, does it really work?”

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The Problems

For many, drug education is essentially being told to be abstinent. Lot’s of schools employ teachers from other departments to give students a lecture on drugs. Frequently, these teachers have a limited understanding and education on drugs themselves. A lecture instructing students to avoid drugs and to resist peer pressure, has repeatedly proved to be ineffective and occasionally dangerous. Drug education is internally regulated in schools, meaning there is no specific nationwide curriculum teachers follow, resulting in mixed messages and understandings of drugs.

One problem that has been repeated over and over again is the generalization of drugs. For those people who have been deterred from any drug using scare tactics and generalizations, it could be argued that drug education has been successful. However studies show that misinformation has serious consequences and that people are rarely deterred by the information they received in school. Repeatedly, the information relates directly to the prison sentences you will receive for possession and the debilitating effects of drugs. Schools often class cannabis as a dangerous substance making it sound just as damaging as amphetamines. However, it has been confirmed that cannabis is a non-lethal drug, and it is near impossible to overdose on. On the other hand cocaine is potentially a lethal drug, taking slightly too much can cause heart attacks and strokes. A young person who finds out their school exaggerated and lied about the damaging effects of cannabis is much more likely to go on to try other drugs believing that their effects have also been exaggerated.

Government and parental paranoia has restricted the information we allow to young people and as a result drug education is nowhere near as effective as it could be, at the moment it doesn’t seem like drug education is working that well.

Honesty Is The Best Policy

However, just because the current system has issues it is certainly better than no system at all. Educating young people about the dangers and effects of drugs is important and can prevent people from becoming addicted to drugs. Instead of solely informing young people about the dangers and potential jail time they will serve, schools need to offer frank and accurate advice and information. No matter what programs and lessons the schools provide, there will always be certain people who recreationally use drugs. Instead of trying to deter people from trying drugs, the education system needs to provide students with an up-to-date information on the effects and side effects of various drugs as well as the potential dangers. Young people being informed about drugs need to be treated as adults and provided with the facts. Ironically it is often the parents fear and unwillingness to discuss this subject which leads to young people trying damaging substances.

This article was submitted by contributing author Stanley Martinson. Stanley is a health writer and is currently focused on issues of drug abuse.  For more information regarding this subject, check this out!

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