Jay's World of Abstracts

Jay's World of Abstracts 00017

Is Zero Tolerance Of Youth Drug Use Working?

August 15, 1999
Mieke H. Bomann
Wisconsin State Journal (WI)

[Standard disclaimer: The nature of abstracts are that they are pieces of something larger. Not everyone is going to be happy with my choice of abstracts from any larger work, so if you are dissatisfied, I would refer you to the original document, which should be able to be found on the Internet. I encourage others to make their own abstracts to satisfy their needs. I would be happy to publish them here.

Jay's Introduction

Here is another perspective on how to work with teens that abuse substances. Though many of these groups pull their data from the same sources, you can see that their approach to dealing with the problem can be vastly different.

I produced this abstract using time paid for by the Quay County Maternal Child and Community Health Council with funds from the New Mexico Department of Health.


No, Say Some Critics Of The `War On Drugs.' They Seek Education Programs That Emphasize Knowledge Over Complete Abstinence

Reducing the risks of drug taking, rather than preaching zero tolerance, may be the most realistic way to get young people safely through adolescence in an age of broad legal and illicit drug use, say educators and parents who question whether the government's "war on drugs" is a losing battle. Tweaking the slogan Just Say No, advocates of a new approach called Just Say Know are calling for a public health education campaign that broadens young people's knowledge about all drugs. Drug education as it has been traditionally taught is based on flawed goals, they say, and by refusing to settle for nothing short of complete abstinence, current efforts are unrealistic and doomed to failure.

The level of drug use by young people has increased in this decade. A 1998 University of Michigan study for the National Institute on Drug Abuse found there was a slight decline in drug use among teen-agers in 1997, but in the six previous years the number of youngsters who tried a drug climbed significantly. Between 1991 and 1997, eighth-graders who experimented with drugs jumped from 19 to 29 percent; 10th-graders from 31 to 50 percent and 12th graders from 44 to 54 percent. "One of the problems with conventional drug education is the notion that we have the ability to prevent experimentation with drugs among teen-agers," said Marsha Rosenbaum, director of the Lindesmith Center-West, a drug policy research group in San Francisco.

"If you combine the nature of teen-agers, which is risk-taking behavior, and the availability of a range of substances, it seems to me it makes substance experimentation almost inevitable," said Rosenbaum.


Since 1982, Mothers Against Misuse and Abuse has been taking its slide presentation, "Think Smart About Drugs" across the country. The organization was founded by a group of mothers in northern Oregon who were disturbed that while the availability of all drugs, especially prescription and over-the-counter brands, was growing, there was no easily accessible source of information about them.


"Drug education should be like driver1s education and gun safety education," said Sandee Burbank, MAMA's founder and executive director. "Find good, accurate information." If well informed, most people make decisions in their own best interest, she added.

In large measure, the successful drug education of children rests on trust, experts agree. If youngsters find out that even part of an antidrug message is inaccurate and or an ideological tool, there is the risk they will never come back or listen again.

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