Many of us have grown up with a form of drug education that exaggerates the dangers of substance use, highlighting a worst case scenario in the hope of scaring young people off trying substances.

DON’T DO DRUGS! DRUGS WILL KILL YOU! SAY NO TO DRUGS! The list goes on.

But how effective is this approach and what are the alternatives?

Research tells us that a drug education program where the primary message is ‘drugs are bad’ will not only leave young people who do dabble in substance use unprepared to keep themselves safe but can be counterproductive – glamorising substance use and discouraging the development of informed decision making.

Perhaps even more crucially, an educator who talks only about the harms of substance use, runs the risk of losing credibility amongst young people who may have already tried a substance and had no adverse effect.

An educator who talks only about the harms of substance use, runs the risk of losing credibility amongst young people

An educational approach that focuses on provision of accurate and balanced information, accepts that there are different views about drug use and encourages young people to explore a range of views is far more beneficial.

For more info on what works in drug education, check out this article or talk to YoDAA for more advice.