The say no to drugs in San Diego campaign was never a big part of my upbringing. We had a brief health class when I was in high school, but it was not very well designed. Basically, it consisted of us watching antiquated and outdated videos from the 70s. They depicted people getting into all kinds of improbable problems because they used drugs and alcohol. They were not very well made videos and, to tell you the truth, most of the class found them funny. To this day, I still remember laughing out loud while we watched the health videos.
The real problem is that most saying no to drugs education is done in such a hysterical way that kids don’t take it seriously. You don’t get to talk to real former junkies and learn how they got addicted to drugs and alcohol. You don’t get to see both sides of the argument. The fact is that some drugs are worse than others. High schoolers are sometimes told that marijuana is equally dangerous to harder drugs such as heroin. Then, if they’ve try marijuana or have friends who do and don’t get into any trouble, they assume that other drugs are equally mild.
That is why I helped my local school district develop a more honest workshop On why to just say no to drugs in Lemon Grove. It is based on a different theory than most of these workshops. There is a very law and order emphasis to a lot of say no to drugs education. It presents a world view where one side is definitely right and the other side is definitely wrong. We thought that it might be more useful to give students all the facts and let them decide for themselves. Rather than trying to tell them what to do, we simply gave them the information about the different drugs.
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We told them the risks, let them meet people who have dealt with drug addictions, educated them about drug laws, and had them write their own essays describing how they felt about the war on drugs as seen on San Diego’s say no to drugs shirt. The results have been outstanding. Students have an easier time knowing how to say no to drugs in Lemon Grove than in any of the neighboring high schools. Although we have a similar rate of marijuana usage To the other neighboring high schools, almost none of our kids tend to fall into the trap of using hard drugs. We have helped to keep them safe from the most dangerous street drugs, and for that we all feel proud.