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The Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program in public schools is our nation's most prominent and visible attempt to educate young people to resist drug abuse. It reaches over 60% of elementary school children in the United States, and is far and away the most prevalent drug education program in use today. 

This site provides information and views on the DARE program not readily available through DARE or any official source. This page is not sponsored or endorsed by "DARE" and I do not purport to speak for DARE.  I hope parents will consider the following information when deciding whether or not their child should participate in DARE. Hopefully, school administrators and public officials will find this site a helpful source of information when deciding whether to rely on DARE for the important purpose of educating young people to resist drug abuse, justifying the significant sacrifice of academic time and public revenue.

Having a policeman or policewoman come into a classroom can be an effective way to teach important survival skills, such as traffic rules, bicycle safely, and resisting Predatory strangers. In recent years, newspapers have published several accounts where children credited D.A.R.E. with helping them thwart an improper approach by a stranger. 

Another benefit of D.A.R.E. is that it promotes a familiarity between police officers and children, teachers and school staff, facilitating both the role model and law enforcement function of the police officer. "Show me another program," remarked a D.A.R.E. officer, "where I can get to know every kid in this town, and something about the family, even if it is just where they live. THAT'S the great thing about D.A.R.E.." 

Having a D.A.R.E. program in the local school lifts the burden on teachers and administrators to provide drug education, and gives them additional time to do something else. It is popular with parents and the media because it conveys the idea that something is being done to combat the menace of drug abuse by children. 

D.A.R.E. is especially popular among the children themselves. Most D.A.R.E. officers are friendly, affable officers, and develop good rapport with the kids, who are charmed by tales of adventure in law enforcement. Police departments like D.A.R.E. because it provides additional revenue and a useful opportunity to engage in community relations. 

D.A.R.E. officers are frequently personable, attractive officers who make an excellent impression on fifth graders and present a positive image of police in general.  Without a doubt, the program is hugely popular. Some see that as a measure of success.


Health Risks

Physical or psychological damage may occur when these substances are abused.  Here are some of the health risks:

Alcohol – Alcohol is a drug.  Alcohol consumption causes a number of marked changes in behavior.  Very high doses can cause respiratory depression and death.  Alcohol intoxication is equivalent to a drug overdose.  If combined with other depressants of the central nervous system, the effects of alcohol are multiplied.  Repeated use of alcohol can lead to change in tolerance and dependence.  Cessation of alcohol intake can produce withdrawal symptoms including tremors, hallucinations, convulsions, and death.  Long-term consumption of large quantities of alcohol can lead to permanent damage to vital organs such as the brain and the liver.  Women who drink even small amounts of alcohol during pregnancy may give birth to infants with fetal alcohol syndrome.  Children of alcoholic parents have a 40 percent greater risk of developing alcoholism than those whose parents are not alcoholic.

Cannabis – The mood altering effects of marijuana are the result of the chemical delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol  (THC).  THC is fat-soluble and remains in the body up to three weeks after smoking one marijuana cigarette.  Consequently, even the occasional user can be detected through urinalysis.  Research indicates that regular use may have long-term effects on the user’s brain, heart, and reproductive organs.  The numerous carcinogenic chemicals found in marijuana smoke make it particularly harmful to the lungs.  Loss of memory, lack of motivation, and diminished attention span are some of the effects of regular marijuana use.  Long-term use may result in psychological dependence and change in tolerance.

Depressants – The use of depressants can result in a change in tolerance and physical, as well as, psychological dependency.  The combining of several depressants (e.g. valium and alcohol) will potentiate the depressant effects multiplying the heath hazards.  Withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, vomiting, acute psychotic episodes, seizures, and death.

Stimulants – High doses of stimulant drugs result in intense personality disturbances including visual and auditory hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia.  Tolerance develops rapidly.  Cross-tolerance does develop among stimulant drugs (e.g. methamphetamine and cocaine).  The use of cocaine can cause death by cardiac arrest or respiratory failure.  Stimulants are addictive and while withdrawal from stimulants is less dangerous than with depressants, depression can make the person vulnerable to suicide. 

Narcotics – Tolerance, especially to the euphoric effects of narcotics, and physical dependence develop rapidly.  In order to avoid the abstinence syndrome, the addict becomes preoccupied with acquiring the drug.  Withdrawal symptoms are extremely uncomfortable; however, they are seldom life threatening.

Hallucinogens Phencyclidine (PCP) – Large doses of PCP may result in convulsive seizure, coma, and death.  Mood disorders occur and the user may become violent, irrational, and potentially harmful to self and others.  Lysergic acid (LSD), mescaline, and psilocybin causes sensations and feelings to change rapidly.  The user may experience panic, confusion, anxiety, depersonalization and loss of control.  While relatively rare, flashbacks, the spontaneous reappearance of the drug experience after use has ceased, may occur.

Anabolic-Androgenic Steroids – Steroid users can experience serious cardiovascular, liver, central nervous system, gastrointestinal, and reproductive disorders.  In males, use can result in testicular atrophy, sterility, impotence, and arrested growth.  Irreversible masculinization and sterility can result when women use steroids.  Psychological impairments include mood swings, depression, and very aggressive behavior.



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