Although marijuana can be stereotyped as one of most common gateway drugs, the latest research findings have proven otherwise. Researchers found nicotine to be more of a gateway than any other substance after findings showed it has a greater likelihood to lead individuals to abuse other drugs upon having it in their system, according to NPR.
Marijuana may be misrepresented as one of gateway drugs due to statistics, but nicotine is the true culprit that directs people to more potent drugs, like cocaine and heroin. The
Prevention for Youth: “Just Say No” Fails
When it comes to protecting the younger generation, drug prevention and awareness initiatives should be used as tactics for approaching substance abuse issues early and before they manifest themselves. However, original school drug education programs like DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) have failed because they follow the concept that individuals should simply “Just Say No.” The problem with this concept is that when a person is already active in their addiction, they aren’t capable of “just saying no.” According to Scientific American, the original DARE program was outlined by police officials – not addiction specialists. The entire original outline of the DARE program was incorrectly centered on the criminalistics rather than on how substance use disorders like drug abuse and addiction are public health issues that need to be addressed as the illnesses they are.
Is new approach for DARE different?
Officials became aware of how the DARE program was unsuccessful for individuals learning about the preventative measures. Research analysts looked at what might be more effective at teaching younger generations how to stray away from picking up the first substance and found that holding off from longer presentations in programs to instead engage them could help keep their attention. It was discovered that the younger generation may benefit more by enacting in a lesson of better judgement and decision making rather than hearing an entire course on “saying no” to drugs. The new approach goes by “keepin’ it REAL.” Sgt. Christine Rapp, who works for D.A.R.E. and has been an officer of Hancock County Sheriff’s Department for 16 years, explained, “When [students] learn the ways to say no to friends, they absolutely love getting up in front of the class and acting those out.” The group needed to get up and be interactive by putting themselves in the scenario to see how they would interact if they were in the situation instead of listening about what to say. It’s a completely different story when the students can place themselves situations instead of hearing someone talk for an hour, especially when being that young because they don’t necessarily want to be listening to someone go on for an extended period of time. The “keepin’ it REAL” focuses on four ways to specifically say no, which are: Refuse, Explain, Avoid, and Leave. The only problem with this type of program is that it still follows the similar “Just Say No” concept, but instead of it being verbalized to students, they are now more active in the lesson plan. Programs like DARE haven’t worked in the past because the “Just Say No” concept is ineffective. Switching around the program may help, but not if the concept stays the same! However, former critics like Richard Clayton, who has past experience in prevention programs and studied at
Only time will tell if this new approach for DARE is effective in helping take action toward preventative measures for addressing substance use related issues. As far as gateway drugs are concerned, substances like marijuana and alcohol may seem like feasible candidates but studies have proven nicotine to be the most likely to lead individuals to abuse other drugs afterward. If drug prevention programs like DARE can be configured so they are most effective at raising awareness about substance use issues, then individuals may not be as inclined to falling susceptible to the lures of gateway drugs.