The subject of Drug Prevention is pretty broad. I’ve written an earlier article on drug prevention best practices. It was mainly addressed to what would get your drug prevention grant application approved. If you want to read it, see Drug Prevention Grants, Best Practices…
One effective approach to drug prevention is actually Drug Education. You might find critical publications of drug education and even ridiculing of it. In fact, at a conference in Markham, Ontario I remember sitting by a police officer that I knew and we were attending a presentation of “how drug education is ineffective…” We were both pretty disgusted with this because he had delivered drug education lectures and so had I. We both had the satisfactory experience of students thanking us for our lecture and statements from some saying they will not be taking drugs due to the lecture.
I also know of an old-time drug education lecturer (and Narconon graduate) who had lectured in Toronto for Narconon. For years after his time as a lecturer he had every once in a while met someone who had several years earlier attended one of his lectures and then re-affirmed the fact that he stopped doing drugs and still didn’t take drugs because of that lecture.
One positive-result scientific study is the Narconon Drug Education study done in two US states, Oklahoma and Hawai’i. A known Canadian Narconon drug prevention specialist, Tibor A Palatinus of Narconon Vancouver Society participated as a lecturer in Hawaii during that study. Narconon, Quebec, uses the same Drug Education content, in English or French depending on the audience. Groups all over Europe and Asia, United Kingdom and Africa, and Latin America do so also.
On the other hand, I learned of a couple of official “drug education studies” (not of Narconon) floating around Canada which gives Drug Education (in general) a bad name. One group studied a few random programs. Another study focused primarily on only a specific drug education program module which applied itself rather broadly in USA and Canada. Those studies proved poor results.
But then other people took the study(s) and considered that it applied to all drug education in the whole of existence! They said, “see, this study shows that drug education doesn’t work..” This is no criticism of the studies done. They may very well have followed the most effective and rational protocol in doing each study. The error lies in those who promoted the study as though every single drug education lecture ever delivered in past, present or future, any module, any lecturer, trained or not, any video whether it be the old 1970s “car accidents and police reports of deaths and arrests… scare tactics video” or a modern time-developed best practices, evidence based module is all the same one to the other. Then some “authority” might write an official statement (false statement that is) saying “drug education doesn’t work, study shows…” Do you see my point?
They considered that one drug education lecture = another = another.
If you find a bad running car, or if you read a study about a specific model and brand of car, find it breaks down easily, rusts quickly, etc, would you then decide never to buy a car? Would you then conclude “cars are bad?.. every one of them?” Well unfortunately that too often gets done when studies get published. It’s a misuse of a probably quite valid study.
By the way, I did once see one of these old “scare tactic” videos when I was in school, in Stonewall, Manitoba in the late 1970′s. It showed car accidents, screaming ambulances, police arrests and so on. Well one could include something like that as a small part of a lecture I suppose; but us school-kids just ignored these because most of us whether drinkers or drug users did not have such horrible experiences.
This false concept on Drug Education is comparable to how some “experts”, like 10 years ago especially in Vancouver, kept pushing the false idea: “studies show that addiction treatment gets 2% success rate..’ This is obviously false (although may be true for some very unsuccessful programs, only limited to those) and in fact no other city said anything so misleading neither at the time nor since. I chopped up one of these experts on a live talk show once simply by asking her what were these programs that were studied; and asked her why those studies did not include successful programs. She was speechless for a moment and only answered that she should research drug rehab programs herself – as she evidently had only relayed a statement she had heard. Then another person spoke up claiming his program in Toronto got a 55% success rate as attested by an outside professional study. So much for this 2% success rate rumour. I have not heard that line of “2% success rate” in the addictions treatment “expert” vocabulary since. It’s too easy to disprove publicly and embarrassing to those who might promote it. But the same can go for Drug Education.
I made this critical statement to the federally organized Special Committee on Non-Medical Use of Drugs in Ottawa when I was invited as a witness to speak to them as an expert myself. I made a clear point to this government committee that they have to inspect the studies they are given and put them in the correct context; in other words do not just accept what “experts” say. I remember later learning of at least one of these Members of Parliament putting an ad out looking for successful drug rehab programs. I felt honored that she took my advice.
You see, if one buys into a hopeless attitude then they won’t even shop around; won’t even look to see what is out there.
On the subject of experts, some are very familiar with studies they promote; even if they did not do the study first-hand. Some are smart enough to differentiate one program from another; one study from another.
Unfortunately however too many of these experts, being human, make mistakes. Some add their own fixed opinions, or slant their statements due to some personal prejudice. The only way out for you, if you are a consumer or one who is looking for something you need for your school or group; the only way is to look for yourself. Find legitimate studies. Study the studies. Get help to understand them. Look at what is offered by your own first hand inspection if possible. Only then make your conclusions.
Drug Education or not, the principles covered above are applicable in most aspects of work and life.
Regarding Drug Education, there are some standard ones out there and some are on video and can be used by anyone.
One of the best lecturers in the world that I met was right in my own network, Narconon. He originally lectured in Boston, Massachusetts. You can see some of his Narconon Lectures online now.
Well, good luck to you in your research!
Brad Melnychuk, Drug Education Lecturer