‘Just say no’ education doesn’t work

Found to be ineffective, if not counter-productive

‘Just say no’ education doesn’t work

Letter writer Cristina Adam asserted that abstinence-based drug education is the best, adding that “in no uncertain terms there is NO way to take drugs safely.” (“Letter: Say no to drugs the best message,” May 3)

Alas, the “drug abuse resistance education” and “Just say ‘no’” messaging Adam recalls from her youth was found to be ineffective, if not counter-productive. DARE graduates and those exposed to such simplistic messaging were actually more likely to experiment with drugs.

While nothing in life is absolutely safe, some drugs, some means of ingestion and some situations are more hazardous than others. For example, cannabis is safer than alcohol, vaping is safer than smoking and having a beer at home after work or school is safer than drinking and driving.

Consider sex education. Yes, we urge minors to abstain, but we go on to explain how to reduce the harms associated with sex should they choose to engage.

Cannabis use by Canadian minors has gone down about 40 per cent in the short time since we legally regulated that industry. Contrary to Adam’s antiquated drug “education,” we now know that cannabis is more often a substitute for alcohol and other more dangerous drugs than a “gateway” to them.

As Adam points out, we have reduced tobacco smoking with factual education, taxes, advertising and packaging restrictions, bylaws governing where smokers may smoke, cessation products and treatment on demand. We haven’t criminalized smokers or abrogated control of the tobacco market to the mob.

Matthew M. Elrod