Updated DARE program covers opioid addiction in new curriculum
Drug Abuse Resistance Education — or D.A.R.E. — will launch a new curriculum in 2018 aimed at preventing opioid use, according to the organization’s website.
The organization plans to consider materials created by WiRED International, a nonprofit volunteer organization that delivers health education programs to underserved regions of the world.
The almost 35-year-old drug use prevention program has revamped its message in recent years after studies found its original approach of providing information on types of substances and warning students to avoid peer pressure was ineffective, with one study even finding that students who participated in the program were more likely to try drugs.
The organization’s announcement comes a couple months after Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke at a D.A.R.E. conference, saying that the program has the support of President Donald Trump. It was because of the D.A.R.E program’s lack of positive results that it now focuses on teaching students to make healthy decisions “instead of spending 45 minutes lecturing students about drugs,” according to the website. In the new curriculum, called "Keepin’ it REAL," police officers still deliver the program, but now students spend more time working together in small groups.
Research on the police officers’ use of "Keepin' it REAL" (which teaches students to refuse, explain, avoid and leave a situation in which they are offered drugs) is still preliminary. But evaluations of the program itself, developed at Pennsylvania State University, have shown promising results. According to D.A.R.E., the program is still in 75% of the nation’s school districts as well as in 52 countries.
In August, the president said he considered opioid addiction a national emergency, but the issue has not been given that official designation. In addition to working with D.A.R.E. officers, administrators in schools where families have been impacted by addiction can reach out to local health departments, public libraries and other community organizations to find resources and treatment options. Schools in Ohio, for example, are weaving lessons about opioid addiction into their curriculum.
Follow Linda Jacobson on Twitter