Fear and abstinence only drug education?
It's not enough 4 me.
The Canadian government's latest youth anti-drug "education" campaign (see: not4me.ca now named 'drugsnot4me'), continues to rely on the tired, ineffective messages of fear and abstinence. Unfortunately, this approach fails to capture the reality for many youth when it comes to drugs. For this reason, Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy felt it necessary to respond with this website.
Our website steers away from and challenges the standard approach to drug education. While we recognize that prevention is an important goal of all good education efforts, we consider it unrealistic to promote abstinence as the only way to approach youth drug-use. We feel that the use of scare tactics in this regard undermines the purported goals of these anti-drug efforts.
Several generations of people have now experienced the "Just Say No" approach to drug education program in school (like D.A.R.E.) and have still gone on to try or use drugs. There is evidence to suggest that this type of approach is not only ineffective, but counterproductive.
Not4me.org is an educational resource aiming to provide objective and judgment-free information related to drugs and drug use.
We have made it a point to include:
- Facts about non-illicit drugs - The over-emphasis on illegal drugs de-emphasizes the very real dangers of many legal ones. This website includes objective information about popular drugs, regardless of their legal status.
- Harm Reduction tips - This website includes information on how to reduce the potential harms of drug use for those who have already chosen to use drugs.
- Ways to critically analyze personal drug use - Abstinence and fear-based drug education makes no distinction between "use" and "abuse," nor does it provide adequate support for those who do choose to experiment with or use substances. This website encourages those who are using, or have used drugs to think critically about their personal drug use habits, while providing resources for if they decide they want to make a change.
- Tips for open discussion about drugs that discourage negative judgments on drug users - The notion that people who choose to experiment with drug use are stupid risk-takers who don't know any better is incorrect and misleading. It also ignores the reasons that young people turn to substances in the first place. This website recognizes that the choice to use drugs is a complex and personal one. We believe in informed consent. We encourage youth to be supportive and open with their friends, and to avoid judging the personal choices of others.
It is our sincere hope that this website will become a tool for youth and students looking for honest, objective and judgment-free drug education.