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The importance of modernised drug education


The multi-million-pound trial of the Blueprint program in 23 schools in England 2004 and 2005 was the largest such study in UK. Its program included advanced interactive teaching methods supplemented by parental and community-wide components, the results of which were expected to "trigger a fundamental assessment of the place of drug education" in UK drug policy, according to its government funders. If it did, it would confirm that drug education in secondary schools has only a minor impact on the prevention of problems related to drinking and illegal drug use, despite the fact that the evidence for smoking is stronger. By the end of the follow-up period, there was no evidence that Blueprint had slowed substance use growth any more effectively than usual lessons in non-Blueprint schools charted.


If these are the outcomes when schools are assisted by a research 

team that provides training and support above and beyond what is normally available, the preventive impact of such programs in normal practice is very unlikely to be significant, and very likely to be no greater than usual teaching. The government, teachers, parents, and advocates for drug policy reform all want the same thing: to reduce the real risks of legal and illegal drug use among young people. They recognise that the risks are greater during adolescence because the brain is still developing and they may lack the decision-making abilities of adults. 


According to the Government's own advice to schools, they have a "clear role to play in preventing drug misuse," and they provide accurate information on drugs and alcohol through education and targeted information, including the FRANK service, that tackle problem behaviour in schools with expanded search and confiscation powers.


The government has provided a set of publications emphasising the importance of schools in drug prevention. When it comes to providers, the primary recommendations in these publications are that education should be led by teachers and that there should be multiagency support. While the methods should be need-based, they should also provide information, teach decision-making skills, use interactive teaching methods, be integrated into the curriculum, and be maintained throughout the lifespan. The objective of this review is to assess the efficacy of drug education interventions by identifying the most effective programs within a British Government policy framework. Because of the wide variety of interventions available, the review is organised by providers and focuses on programs that have been evaluated. This reflects the government's emphasis on collaborative, evidence-based practice. 


On the generally poor preventive impact, in particular of school-based prevention programs, an internationally recognised authority reminds us that for young people, smoking, drinking, and drug use are among the symbols distinguishing their identities and sub-societies from those of adults, a "performance" in front of other young people to mark their belonging to the group and distinguish them from "outsiders," yet also markers of their passage to adolescence. The fact that they are too young for these risks adds to their appeal as markers of being 'grown up.’


"Drinking, smoking, and drug use are all part of the worlds of youthful sociability,” according to the founders of school programs. These worlds mostly operate independently of the adult worlds of home and school, and they are frequently resistant to adult attempts to intervene in their operation. One of the difficulties with school-based drug education is that it is school-based: it is an attempt by the adult world to influence the worlds and subcultures conducted by young people themselves.” Rejecting pre-set prevention goals, one of the UK's most experienced and influential drug educators has called for drug education to be aligned with education on other sensitive issues such as politics, religion, and abortion: "identifying objectivity, ensuring factual accuracy, inviting balance, neutral 'chairing' of discussions, etc... 


Young people can tell when they are trusted to think for themselves and when they are not. The older they get, the more they reject education that assumes that only manipulation and control can keep them from making bad decisions, and that presents them with pre-packaged rights and wrongs, as if we had failed them so badly that they couldn't figure it out for themselves.” The main hallmarks of the 'just say no' era are still visible, such as the clear distinction between 'drugs' and 'alcohol,' and the emphasis on enforcement, some of the rhetoric appears to have shifted. Instead of outright scare tactics, there is a proposal to provide young people with information about drug use. This is consistent with the evidence. There is mixed evidence about what drug education should entail, but it appears to be more effective when part of a larger program, such as developing social and life skills. 


The connectedness with adults and school were consistently associated with positive health choices, including lower levels of alcohol and drug use, in a US follow-up study of over 12,000 adolescents. It is not that the school is unimportant; rather, what is important is the development of supportive, engaging, and inclusive school cultures that allow students to participate in school decision-making and extracurricular activities. These are linked to better outcomes in a variety of domains, including non-normative substance use. In addition to facilitating bonding with the school, such schools are likely to make it easier for students to seek and receive the assistance they require. Schools appear to build protective factors and reduce risk factors in their students in ways that specific drug education teaching may be able to contribute to, but only as a minor component.


Tolerance to alcohol's effects influences drinking behaviour and drinking consequences in several ways. This alcohol describes how tolerance may encourage alcohol consumption, contributing to alcohol dependence and organ damage; affect the performance of tasks, such as driving, while under the influence of alcohol; contribute to the ineffectiveness or toxicity of other drugs and medications; and may contribute to the risk for alcoholism. Vodka | ABV: 40-95%, Gin | ABV: 36-50%, Rum | ABV: 36-50%, Whiskey | ABV: 36-50%, Tequila | ABV: 50-51%, Liqueurs | ABV: 15%, Fortified Wine | ABV: 16-24%, Unfortified Wine | ABV: 14-16%, Beer | ABV: 4-8%, Malt Beverage | ABV: 15%.

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