DARE Still Fails to Reduce Alcohol and Drug Abuse

The popular Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program has, for a quarter of a century, consistently failed to reduce alcohol or drug abuse. Not a single scientific research study yet published has found it to be effective.

Because of its clear ineffectiveness, the program was finally cut from federal funding. In the face of losing of losing money from the government, the management of the DARE corporation asked Zili Sloboda and Richard Stevens of the University of Akron to develop a new curriculum called "Take Charge of Your Life" for DARE.

The curriculum developers were given a $13.7 Million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to evaluate the effectiveness of their curriculum among middle and high school students. To do so, their study followed nearly 20,000 7th graders from September 2001 until December 2005 as they progressed through school and surveyed them annually to determine the effects of the new program.

The first annual report indicated that "The central question addressed by the study is: Will the program eliminate or reduce the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs by the time the students reach the 11th grade?"

Subsequent reports indicated that no differences had been found and the last report that was released revealed that the researchers were seeking to understand the lack of differences.

The United States Government Accounting (now Accountability) Office (GAO) reported in 2003 that "The researchers plan to complete their evaluation of the revised DARE curricula in 2006." The report issued in 2006 provided no evidence that the program was effective in reducing alcohol or drug abuse, which was earlier identified as the "central question to be addressed by the study."

However, although no information on the effectiveness of the new DARE curriculum seems to have been released, numerous papers have subsequently been presented, published or submitted for publication by the grant recipients on the organizational structure of the program, student attrition, student perceptions of police officers, methodological matters, implementation fidelity, and the program model.

Requests to principal investigator Zili Sloboda, DARE, and the Robert Wood Johnson have all failed to yield evidence of any relevant report or other evidence that the DARE curriculum is effective in reducing drug involvement.

Thus it appears that there is no evidence that the "New DARE" program (not to be confused with a more recently-announced "New DARE" program on prescription drugs) is effective in reducing substance abuse.

 

Source:

  • The official name of the evaluation project of the "New DARE" program is "Adolescent Substance Abuse Prevention Study." Following are the publicly-available reports on that evaluation project:
  • Institute for Health and Social Policy. University of Akron. The Adolescent Substance Abuse Prevention Study Evaluation of "Take Charge of Your Life" -- 7th Grade Immediate Short-Term Effects. n.d. (described as first report). (1.cj.msu.edu/~outreach/dare/newdare_1styear_report.html)
  • The University of Akron. Adolescent Substance Abuse Prevention Study:
    A Longitudinal Evaluation of the New Curricula for the D.A.R.E Middle (7th
    Grade) and High School (9th Grade) Programs. Progress Report For "Year Two" December 2003
    (1.cj.msu.edu/~outreach/dare/newdare_2ndyear_eval.pdf)
  • The University of Akron. Adolescent Substance Abuse Prevention Study: A Longitudinal Evaluation of the New Curricula for the D.A.R.E Middle (7th
    Grade) and High School (9th Grade) Programs. Progress Report For "Year Two" June 2004 (dare.com/home/Resources/documents/secondyearevalofdare.doc)

  • The University of Akron's Adolescent Substance Abuse Prevention Study A Longitudinal Evaluation of the New Curricula for the D.A.R.E Middle
    (7thGrade) and High School (9th Grade) Programs: TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR LIFE.
    Year Four Progress Report March 2006.
    (dare.org/home/Resources/documents/DAREMarch06ProgressReport.pdf)
  • General Accounting Office. Youth Illicit Drug Use Prevention: DARE Long-Term Evaluations and Federal Efforts to Identify Effective Programs
    (gao.gov/new.items/d03172r.pdf)
  • Principal investigator Sloboda and her colleagues have published much about DARE and the Adolescent Substance Abuse Prevention Study --- except for information about its effectiveness/ineffectiveness These publications
    include:
  • Zili Sloboda, Peggy Stephens, Amod Pyakuryal, Brent Teasdale, Richard C.
    Stephens, Richard D. Hawthorne, Jesse Marquette and Joseph E. Williams.
    Implementation fidelity: the experience of the Adolescent Substance Abuse Prevention Study. Health Education Research, 2008(June) Health Education Research, doi:10.1093/her/cyn035
  • Zili Sloboda, Amod Pyakuryal, Peggy Stephens, Brent Teasdale, David Forrest, Richard Stephens, Scott Grey. Reports of Substance Abuse Prevention Programming Available in Schools. Prevention Science, 2008
    (August)
  • Augustine Hammond, Zili Sloboda, Peggy Tonkin, Richard Stephens, Brent Teasdale, Scott F Grey, Joseph Williams. Do adolescents perceive police officers as credible instructors of substance abuse prevention programs?
    Health Education Research, 2007 (October 17).
  • Jeffrey Merrill, Ilana Pinsky, Ley Killeya-Jones, Zili Sloboda, Tracey Dilascio. Substance abuse prevention infrastructure: A survey-based study of the organizational structure and function of the D.A.R.E. program.
    Substance Abuse Treatment and Prevention Policy, 2006, 1(1), 25.
  • Don C Des Jarlais, Zili Sloboda, Samuel R Friedman, Barbara Tempalski, Courtney McKnight, Naomi Braine. Diffusion of the D.A.R.E and syringe exchange programs. American Journal of Public Health, 2006, 8, 1354-8.
  • Amod Pyakuryal, Peggy Stephens, Brent Teasdale, David Forrest, Richard Steph Zili Sloboda ens, Scott Grey. Reports of Substance Abuse Prevention Programming Available in Schools. Prevention Science, 2008 (August 19).

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