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David Lunn Jr. was in his teenage years when he first went to a DARE program assembly for his school. David heard about the different kinds of drugs and why it is so important to just say no. Sadly, the program enticed him with heroin. Throughout the whole assembly, heroin was on his mind because the program made the drugs sound fun. He started doing heroin up until his hunger for drugs led him to opiates. David had a promising life as a professional basketball player until he got addicted to opiates. He would soon end up dying all alone with his body leaning against the basement door of a rundown apartment building. This story only mentions one of the many people who had a promising life ahead of them, but their lives got cut short from an opiate overdose. A change is needed to be made in order to protect the lives of others. Deemphasizing social resistance to drug use and refocusing anti-drug education on science will make these programs more effective and reduce drug abuse among adolescents.
The key aspect discussed is that anti-drug programs do not work. Programs like DARE, the Just Say No campaign, and others have had no luck getting kids to stop taking opiates. Children get more influenced to take the drugs that they are being taught to avoid. According to Bernard Bard, a professor, “There is no evidence that any of the secondary school programs that were observed curbed illegal drug use… the programs actually encouraged drug use”. The excerpt that contained this sentence was written forty-six years ago and is still true to this day, which is a huge problem. Bernard Bard also found that the California State Department of Education created a report about anti-drug programs at multiple secondary schools. The evidence collected showed an extraordinarily high degree of drug use after the program in half of the schools. This evidence reveals how the current anti-drug programs do not work for many schools and make the drug situation worse. Not only can the adolescents be encouraged to do drugs, but the adolescents could potentially move on to worse drugs if society does not fix the drug education that children receive. David Heitz, who is a writer for rehab centers, documented a new wave of drug-addicted adolescents that mix drugs with, marijuana, and alcohol, and some have even ended up injecting heroin. Adolescents have been losing the battle with opiate addictions and the number of adolescent opiate users is rising. A group of pediatric professors even found more evidence to support that more kids are using opiates and continue to use opiates into adulthood. Richard Miech, one of the pediatric professors in the study, declares “Legitimate opioid use before high school graduation is independently associated with a 33% increase in the risk of future opioid misuse after high school”. This statistic shows that the DARE program has done nothing to help students and has not guided the students to make better decisions. With minimal positive outcomes after adolescents attend the antidrug programs reveal that these types of programs do not work. As a society, the goal is to protect one another, but it is not being accomplished. Adolescents are still getting addicted to harmful drugs and overdosing on opiates. Something needs to be done to protect the youth of society.
On the positive side, one solution to the opiate problem is adding a more scientific focus to anti-drug programs. People think that only focusing on morals will cause change, but this is not true. The moral path has failed, and now it is time to try to add a different technique to the program. Applying science to these curriculums, in the means that using research and studies to create a better program, which is one answer to this problem. A study done by pediatric doctors concluded that “Emotion regulation appears to create a doubled ability to avoid substance abuse and helps to control the temptation of relapse, which is a type of tendency-avoidance conflict”. With this information, the doctors started to look deeper into the assumption. By the early 2000s, pediatric doctors and prevention doctors created keepin’ it REAL, which was a new course. Keepin’, it REAL differs from DARE by replacing the drug lectures with interactive lessons. The interactive lessons present stories of addicts and family members of people who overdosed as a way to help adolescents make smart decisions. The program had reduced the number of adolescents who abuse substances. Keepin’, it REAL had created an antidrug mindset over time among the students in its early trials. These doctors even discovered that “Behavioral scientists started to suggest a different approach as early as 1998, based on research into successful behavior-change techniques”. The proposed solution is not only effective, but it is also scientifically proven. The Council on School Health and Committee on Substance Abuse reported that the amount of middle school and high school students who use illicit drugs has gone down steadily. These statistics show that the keepin’ it REAL program has shown improvements with how many students take these illicit drugs. The moral path has done nothing for students, but there is still hope with this approach.
Although some may argue that eliminating anti-drug programs in schools may be beneficial as well, it is not the best solution. Kids will still get influenced to take opiates one way or another, whether that be from peer pressure or school. Without teaching adolescents about the dangers of opiates they may be even more prone to taking them. Doctors advocate for the use of certain curricula designed for schools to use that have been proven to be effective. The curriculums deliver the information to students in ways that spark the kid’s interests, make the program interactive, and are developmentally appropriate for each grade. Finding an anti-drug program that teaches students a different perspective is a better solution than completely eliminating the program. Pediatric doctors emphasized that “studies have demonstrated convincingly that the effects of school programs can be amplified substantially when community components are added”. The more effort that is put into these anti-drug programs the better likelihood they have of working. An example of this is how the DARE program kept working on how to connect better with the students and ended up combining efforts with a new program created by researchers. The new program has a website aimed at helping adolescents that are based on previous work, which demonstrates how teaching communication and life skills can have a positive influence even if the adolescents were influenced by negative peers and/or other negative influences. The brand new anti-drug program has shown positive effects on adolescents and proves that anti-drug programs are needed in schools. The group of pediatric doctors, who created multiple studies, reinforce that “Drug education enables children, youth and adults to develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to appreciate the benefits of living healthily, promote responsibility towards the use of drugs and relate these to their own actions and those of others…”. This excerpt stresses the importance of how anti-drug programs are beneficial for the youth and how without proper education the adolescents could damage themselves and/or harm others.
In conclusion, refocusing anti-drug education with science will be the best way for anti-drug programs to work. Coming together and fighting this “War on Drugs” is the only way to make it end. If nothing is done then more kids will die from overdosing on opiates. This is why the call of action is so important and why solutions need to start being created. People are dying every day and we are not helping.
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