Doobies and Shroomies and Yay-O, Oh My! The School Program that Introduced a Generation to the Horrors (and Joys) of Drugs
The brief and interesting history of everyone's favorite school drug program: D.A.R.E.
Despite its party-animal persona, America actually has a long history of being pretty square. Going back to our 1600’s Puritan roots, it seems that if it's fun and doesn’t involve a firearm, then its taboo. Nowhere is this more obvious than with the USś dubious relationship with drugs. So for all you 80ś and 90ś kids out there, brace yourself for a noxious, nip of nostalgia with Drug Abuse Resistance Education, better known as D.A.R.E
For better or worse, the U.S. has a long history of drug use and abuse. A hundred years ago opioids, amphetamines and cocaine were common medicinal remedies. The 1930’s saw a drug backlash with the anti-marijuana propaganda film “Reefer Madness,” and by the 60’s Boomers fed their minds on LSD. Naturally, the high couldn’t last forever and in 1971, President Richard Nixon declared a “War on Drugs.”
The War raged on with questionable results, despite its $51 billion a year budget with D.A.R.E entering the fray in 1983 as an attempt to curb what seemed like endless demand Here, hip police officers rolled into classrooms, full of potential future crackheads and junkies and gave ham-fisted lessons on the dangers of peer pressure and the devil dope. Initially the program appeared successful and 75% of American schools participated, inundating kids with so much cheesy D.A.R.E swag that their backpacks wouldn’t have space to stash drugs.
It didn’t take long for the buzz to wear off. In 1992 researchers at Indiana University found that kids in D.A.R.E had higher rates of hallucinogenic drug use than those not in the program. In 1995, the California Department of Education stated that: “(D.A.R.E) simply doesn’t work.” Social psychologists cited the “boomerang effect,” in which the attempt to persuade encouraged the opposing position. Basically, drugs become more, not less tempting.
While D.A.R.E still maintains a presence, its cultural clout is kinda cached, though the most recent curriculum, cringely titled “Keeping it REAL,” has shown to have some positive results. To be fair, the flawed execution doesn't diminish the noble goal of preventing drug use and its potentially devastating effects. So this 4/20, spark a fat one for the hard-working officers that “DARED” you and millions of law-abiding Americans to not do most drugs most of the time.