Youth Respond Positively to New Drug Use Prevention Program

D.A.R.E (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) was the norm in youth addiction prevention programs for decades. If you grew up in the 90s, you may remember police officers having you sign a “Just Say No,” pledge at the end of the lesson. This was a commitment to never do drugs and not to try alcohol until the age of 21.

It is no surprise that the scare tactics used by D.A.R.E were found to have little success. Fortunately, the new kid on the block is keepin’ it R.E.A.L and has replaced “just say no” with diverse communication to teach youth how to make good choices when it comes to drugs and alcohol.

Why D.A.R.E Didn’t Work

D.A.R.E (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) was created in the 1980s as a substance prevention program for youths. It quickly became America’s most popular prevention program before losing credibility when numerous studies were published showing it was not actually effective in reducing drug and alcohol use. 1

It was ineffective for numerous reasons including the fact that the program used scare tactics designed by politicians and police officers instead of a researcher-based curriculum. As it turns out lectures with the sole intent to scare and not educate are not effective in preventing risky behavior in youths.2

In the New England area, teen substance abuse is still a concern, but recent studies indicate a shift in behavior. According to the Rhode Island Department of Health, in 2019 21.5% of high school students drink alcohol, 23.0% use marijuana, and 10% have misused prescription pain medication.3 Although these rates are high, they have been slowly declining in the past decade.3 What could possibly explain the decline? Perhaps it is a new program that is taking a “R.E.A.L.” approach to drug and alcohol prevention in youths.

Keepin’ It R.E.A.L

Keepin’ it R.E.A.L (Refuse, Explain, Avoid, Leave) is a multicultural substance use prevention program for children.4 The program is designed to intervene before students begin to engage in risky behavior including drug and alcohol use.

This program, unlike D.A.R.E, is based on psychology and pulls from theories including the Social Emotional Learning Theory, Narrative Engagement Theory, and the Principle of Cultural Grounding.4 Instead of being talked to for long periods of time like in the D.A.R.E. style lectures, students interact with the curriculum by working in groups to act out scenarios and practice tough decision-making. “Keepin’ it R.E.A.L” also focuses on developing skills, such as5:

  • Resistance strategies.
  • Confidence.
  • Positive expectations.
  • Family and community.
  • Valuing perceptions and feelings.
  • Respect.
  • Diversity.

Studies on keepin’ it R.E.A.L.’s effectiveness have shown reduced substance engagement and more strategies to stay sober in students who completed the program. Other studies found that the program significantly reduced substance use in students who were already using drugs than the control group.2

Signs of Drug Abuse

Unfortunately, prevention programs are not 100% effective, and some people develop drug and alcohol addiction. Knowing the signs of addiction can be helpful in deciding when to reach out to help, but an official diagnosis can only be made by a medical professional. Signs of drug and alcohol addiction include but are not limited to 6:

  • There is a strong desire or urge to use the substance, known as a craving.
  • Failure to fulfill major obligations at home, school, or work due to recurrent substance use.
  • Giving up or reducing important occupational, social, or recreational activities because of substance use.
  • Continuing to use the substance in situations that are physically hazardous.
  • Noticeably more substance is needed to achieve the desired effect or intoxication, known as tolerance.
  • A lot of time is spent in obtaining, using, or recovering from the substance.

For more information on the signs and symptoms of drug and alcohol abuse, check out AdCare’s addiction resource center.

Finding Treatment for Drug & Alcohol Addiction

Recovery is possible and treatment can help kickstart your sobriety. If you are struggling with addiction and looking for drug rehab in the New England area, Adcare Treatment Centers can help.  With 45 years of exceptional care, AdCare offers a wide range of substance use disorder treatment programs to meet the needs of each patient.

Located throughout Rhode Island and Massachusetts, AdCare facilities offer:

During one-on-one counseling and group therapy sessions, patients can participate in a variety of programs and therapies including:

  • Trauma-based therapies.
  • Family therapy.
  • Faith-based recovery programs.
  • Treatment medications.
  • Proven addiction therapies.
  • 12-Step groups.
  • Stress management & mindfulness
  • SMART recovery.

For more information on the admissions process and what to expect, reach out to an admissions navigator by calling .

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AdCare has multiple locations throughout Massachusetts and Rhode Island, making it easily accessible to most parts of New England. We offer an integrated system of care and have been helping individuals and families struggling with addiction for 45 years. Take the next step toward recovery: learn more about our addiction treatment programs in MA and RI or learn about how rehab is affordable for everyone.