Too many abstinence-only programs try to scare young people away from trying drugs by highlighting phony horror stories — “if you use marijuana you may turn into a homeless heroin addict.” Yet, the vast majority of people who try marijuana never become addicted or go on to try harder drugs. This leads to many teens ignoring all the drug information relayed to them by people in authority. Once we lose our credibility, it is harder for them to hear the messages that they truly need to hear, like the most dangerous thing you can do is get in a car with someone who has been drinking or high.
-Tony Newman of Alternet, in this article
As someone who grew up with D.A.R.E. and “drug education” as part health class every year, I totally agree. My school was small, conservative, and Christian, but we had surprisingly good sex ed—not so with the drug education. What I got out of drug education was mostly that marijuana, heroin, meth, cocaine, acid, E, and PCP are all the same, and they will all affect you approximately the same socially, professionally, and physically. (Caffeine wasn’t mentioned, nor were prescription drugs really; alcohol, we heard, was pretty bad, especially if you drove, and cigarettes were presented as yucky.)
Once I moved to LA and met people who smoked pot and still had jobs, I realized that my drug education might have been slightly off. And this did in fact make me then question all of it. So I ran out, got some heroin, downloaded some recipes for meth, quit my job, lost all my friends (some I killed, some left me), and started selling my body until it fell apart piece by piece and no one would pay me for sex anymore. And then I died of hepatitis I contracted through dirty needles, but that’s a story for another day.