DARE: feel-good bullshit that made it more likely kids would take drugs


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What should chill the blood of even the heartiest of drug warriors is the incredible immunity to evidence that the program managed to exhibit(and its handlers were deluded or craven enough to assist with).

One can debate what objectives should make the cut as curriculum; but when it comes to “Should we do something known to not work?” there just isn’t a reasoned dispute to be had.


It was a blessing for ironic t-shirt fashion, though.


I went through the DARE program twice at two different schools. I remember thinking it wasn’t likely, as we had been told in the program, that doing cocaine once would kill you. There was always at least one student who said that they knew someone who smoked crack who was still alive. Kids can spot bullshit and condescension, even if they don’t recognize that’s what it is. They know you’re not being honest with them.

I also had/have ADD and sat in class drawing guns and bullet holes on all the cartoon characters in my DARE booklet. And I was never referred to counseling or arrested for making terrorist threats…


A small group of friends and I were invited to be a part of a kinda anti-dare/better-dare called E.R.A.D (Eliminating the Risk of Abusing Drugs) dreamed up by a forward thinking guidance counselor at our high school. The idea was that if students came up with the material, and it was more down-to-earth it might have more impact. I don’t know how we were selected, though we were all in the upper tier grade-wise, and were engaged students. Of course, we were all also pot-smoking buddies, and would get high after the meetings. I guess we liked the guidance counselor, thought it would look good on a college transcripts and privately told ourselves “well we don’t want any abusing drugs…”


The officers of DARE are major campaign contributors, so there’s that.

If I wanted to challenge DARE, I would go in armed with a more effective program, and statistics. I’ve heard they exist, but I’m no expert.


To which program that is horrifically immune to evidence are you referring?

This is America. Be specific.



I was subjected to a Canadian equivalent that, if I recall, was a little less insane and stupid, but that still was very focused on saying “No!” like a mantra. I personally didn’t do drugs - my first drink was when I was 23. But I think that’s because I was always been pretty sure that if my inhibitions were substantially lowered I’d go straight to murder. More of a comment on the seething ocean of rage within me than on drugs, though.

And let me tell you, the moment they legalize pot I’m going to go get high. I’m going to be the one person in the whole world who actually waits until pot is legal to use it.


Because . . . HITLER!

Edit: That was almost too easy. Am I doing it wrong?


I’m a little too old to have gone through DARE, but according to my siblings, a great deal of time was spent emphasizing turning in your parents or anyone else you thought might be doing drugs.

“Hey kids, if your folks like to smoke a joint before family game night, you’d really be better off in foster care. Tattle on 'em and we can make that happen! Everyone knows good upstanding Americans prefer booze.”


I felt like this program did something, but I guess it figures I probably didn’t have the motivation to find drugs, warnings or no. The No Smoking programs seemed to have worked too.


I didn’t try any of it until my 30s. That’s all I ask of my children.

/s on that last part.


Many people who ‘don’t take drugs’ (alcohol doesn’t count, silly) seem always to be impregnated with the fear that they would go crazy or die if they took them.

My advice is always the same, ‘If you’re that convinced it will happen, you probably shouldn’t take them.’

Jesus, if a friend was repeating a mantra under their breath about how they would more than likely crash the car and kill everyone in it if they were ever to learn to drive, I’d probably steer them away from that experience as well.

People are their own worst enemies, especially if they are in a non-normal state of mind after consuming a drug. Except alcohol.

Everyone knows that being drunk out of your skull is normal and enjoyable, so drink up!


That was what I recall reading about DARE’s greatest achievements - getting you to rat out your parents for smoking joints, which sometimes led to jail time. Then of course you’d be traumatized for life for sending your parents to jail and stigmatized by the rest of the family. DARE sounded like a great way for you to ruin your life this way.


Back in the 80s, the lead singer of a band I saw was wearing a DARE shirt. He pointed out that the acronym stood for “Drugs Are Really Excellent”.


Yeah, in school my friends and I had a very different idea of what drug abuse is from any DARE officer. For instance knocking over the bong is very abusive towards the drugs. Dropping the roach is drug abuse. Handling coke with wet hands is drug abuse. Taking the drugs isn’t abuse, that’s the proper and intended use!


That’s some 1984 shit right there.

And even if the parents can chalk up their kids betrayal to the poisonous influence of an invasive authority figure, I bet that shock never quite goes away.

I can imagine the counter-arguments from proponents of DARE. Sensible people, talking sensibly about destroying families. It’s a moral duty.


Abusers are Losers and Losers are Abusers, so don’t Abuse drugs! :smile:

(the “ab” makes it all make more sense.)


As I remember, there were essentially two ways to run the program- Scare tactics or honest information.

The programs which emphasized the horrible painful and inevitable death which you’d experience if you ever actually saw a joint in the flesh, tended to yield higher levels of drug abuse than among kids who never went through the program at all.

The programs where they honestly told the kids “this is how it’s used, this is how it feels, and here are the long term effects that you should worry about” tended to produce kids with similar rates of experimentation, but lower rates of addiction.

My guess is that one type was more popular with the “tough on crime” crowd that tends to win elections.