Effective vs Ineffective Drug/Alcohol Education

An interesting (read: troubling) thing occurred at my school yesterday:  We were visited by both a drug dog team and a deputy from the County Sheriff’s office to speak to us about drug and alcohol addiction and abuse. Their visit wasn’t the troubling part, in fact our senior class helped organize it, but rather it was in the way the topic was addressed.

The entire school (grades k-12) was filed into the gym for the assembly. After settling down, the officer in control of the dog introduced himself and described to us the details of his job, addressing the functions and benefits of a dog and officer partnership. The officer continued with a brief but effective PowerPoint addressing the consequences of violating prohibitory laws concerning drug and alcohol abuse, stopping partway through to give a neat demonstration where his German shepherd quickly located a small amount of marijuana hidden somewhere in the gym. To finish it all up, the officer entertained some questions and dismissed himself graciously.

No complaints here. This guy’s job was to inform the congregation before him of the vast legal ramifications of drug and alcohol abuse, and he succeeded by all accounts, add to that the fact that he kept us all entertained and attentive with firsthand accounts and a love-able companion.

Next, the deputy walked up and addressed the crowd in a warm and friendly way. I’m sad to report that it all went sour from there. This man too came armed with the wonders of PowerPoint, though he used it for a ridiculous and uninspired purpose which quite honestly accomplished little more than sabotaging the very point he was there to express.

While addressing the crowd about alcohol he spoke with a pronounced slur, wobbling around and saying ridiculous things. After he was done being a blatant fool (who am I kidding, he wasn’t even started) he moved the slides through to a video, which he played for us — us being a large group of varying ages from small children to young adults — without hesitation. The video showed a teenager at a party seated on a couch with a beer in his hand. The teen stared vacantly forward through half lidded eyes as he moved the beer up to his mouth and took a drink… which he promptly vomited back into the cup. The video did not end there, but continued to show the guy lift the soiled beverage back up to his mouth and take another drink. You guessed it, he vomited that back into the cup as well. Despite most of the crowd being obviously unsettled and disgusted by this display, the partier in the video raised the glass back up. Mercifully, someone else at the party grew a soul and ran over to remove the twice regurgitated drink from the sorry fellow’s hand.

When the video ended, the deputy was chuckling. Sadly, he continued his sick display, moving to the topic of drunk driving. This part was alright, in fact it was headed in the direction of being logical; that is, until he started talking about the consequences of being caught while driving drunk. He briefly described the tests administered before showing his second video, which he described as being an accurate example of a field sobriety test.

The next victim of this man’s ingenious humor was marijuana (which he pronounced “mary-ju-wanna” in case you hadn’t already assumed as much.) He flipped through a lot of pictures portraying people wearing tie-dyed shirts, bell-bottoms, circular glasses, and goofy smiles, all the while talking like a stereotypical hippie. I’m not sure how many times he said, “It’s God’s Earth, maaaaaaan.” but I hope I never hear it again. Moving on from this specific point of idiocy, he then claimed that, “Alcohol and pot are the same!” stating next in true Reefer Madness style, “All drugs are the same!” and showing that one picture of the woman who used meth for four years (apparently insinuating that pot could actually do that to someone.) He then exuberantly exclaimed, “And now they want to legalize it!” From there, the lengthy and excruciating performance came to a finale so stunningly asinine that it made the rest look nearly passable. Returning to the display he then stated that hippies weren’t the only ones who wanted it legal! I kid you not, this guy changed the PowerPoint frame to a big picture of Jennifer Aniston, nearly yelling that she claimed to even enjoy doing it sometimes. This finale wasn’t over though, in fact he had a lot of pictures of celebrities. These included Johnny Depp (whose name resulted in cheers from some of the people in the crowd), Cameron Diaz (more cheering), Jack Black (thunderous applause), Lil’ Wayne (deafening screams of approval), and finally the most decorated athlete in world history: Michael Phelps (I think at this point everyone was just thinking, “Really, dude?”).

In short, I have no clue what message he was trying to send — perhaps that our legal system is a joke and enjoying pot will make you rich, famous, talented, attractive, etc. Regardless, I doubt anyone found this ridiculous show to be at all effective in dissuading them from abusing either alcohol or marijuana, in fact at many times he made it look appealing.

5 thoughts on “Effective vs Ineffective Drug/Alcohol Education

  1. I just can’t quit thinking about this incident. Drug abuse among teens is such a serious problem, with long-term implications for our nation’s future, that adults need to step up to the plate with a clear-headed, rational, realistic, and respectful approach. Young people are not stupid; just because the adults in the room are naive about drugs and alcohol doesn’t mean the kids are. They know full well that marijuana use doesn’t destroy a person the way meth does.

    The hysterical, ignorant, and even dishonest approach used by the last generation of adults to scare kids straight resulted in a generation that embraced not only marijuana, but also cocaine, acid, and more — and we lost a great deal of productivity and longevity in my generation as a direct result of that. Today’s synthetic drugs are so much more dangerous than the drugs of my youth that to equate them with marijuana borders on criminal. When will we wake up and treat our youth with the respect they deserve, teaching them to take care of their minds and bodies so they can live long and meaningful lives?

    Thank you for writing about this. I hope it sends a strong message to community leaders and educators.

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