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How DARE Failed to Prevent Drug Use

The war on drugs began as early as 1971 with Nixon starting it with an iron fist. As years passed, efforts were made in different ways to try to end it, whether it be public service announcements, cartoons, or even magazine ads. For someone growing up in the 1990s such as myself, you've probably heard them most coming from cartoons, but in my late intermediate school days, I was beginning to see flyers around the school that an anti-drug team called D.A.R.E. would be making a visit to all classrooms for a whole week.

The recurring D.A.R.E. sign that was seen on posters, car bumper stickers and shirts.

When the week of D.A.R.E. happened, two hosts would come by to give some Q & A's about the dangers of smoking cigarettes, pot, and experience of using narcotics flipping through images on a projector showing what they looked like and how they affected the body. It grossed out some, while leaving others speechless.

During these first couple of days the class would be shown a VHS tape showing the usual short messages of awareness by live action (or cartoon to appeal more to the kids) with visuals such as showing lungs turning black from smoking, or people with bags under their eyes. While I can't say if it convinced every kid in the room, everyone still watched it to the end.

Daren the Lion, the mascot for D.A.R.E. was nowhere to be seen in the cartoon VHS I had to watch, but rather having a smoking rabbit attempting to get a group of children to smoke.

The day after the classes would be tasked to write an essay on what D.A.R.E. means to them to prevent them from the influence of drug use and staying healthy. And if they wanted to go the extra mile, they could dedicate each week to supporting D.A.R.E. by wearing an official shirt and spreading the word.

This unfortunately, is where the beginning of the end started. Flyers could be passed out to neighbors, put next to street signs, or hung on message boards, but not everyone in the community was happy with seeing the posters taking up space. Anti-drug messages had been ignored in the past, and this wasn't stopping anyone now to take the posters down.

Raising awareness and handing out pamphlets, D.A.R.E. seemed promising but as history repeated itself, it slowly lost meaning as its volunteers grew up.

As I went into middle school, D.A.R.E. wasn't seen as much and pretty much phased out when high school started for me. Sadly, this is where things got very apparent with some students going out of their way to obtain pot and weed, being in that rebellious phase in their lives, ignoring their parents and their own way of coping from depression before they had to go out and live on their own.

Throughout the years of seeing anti-drug messages from different media, it was from my own self-awareness that I decided not to start smoking. I saw from my own relatives who smoked would constantly be coughing, and one of them even telling stories that they thought about quitting because it was keeping them from getting a good night sleep.

In the aftermath of D.A.R.E. and how it affected others in an unexpected way, there probably won't be as big of a push as there was in an attempt to prevent it now as there was back then. Drugs in any form will always tempt those who only see their own positives for it. Cigarettes can calm you down, weed can make you completely forget anything worrisome, but at the same time, they look past the consequences of addiction and how it can worsen body organ use, and the mind as well.

D.A.R.E. may have fallen flat on its face with its message to others, but to me, it was an interesting time of my life to learn more on a representation on how drugs can really mess someone up.

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Mr Magic Posted on Aug 18, 2022 at 05:32 PM

There's some cheap shirts on eBay. I'm thinking of buying one.

RetroOtaku620 Posted on Aug 17, 2022 at 01:24 PM

I saw the video on D.A.R.E.'s site, and it certainly has changed since I was a kid. But I do have them to think for keeping me away from drugs. I haven't been on drugs my entire life, and I never will, thanks to them. I even recently bought a D.A.R.E. graphic tee from teepublic.

ThatDudeintheHoodie Posted on Aug 13, 2022 at 01:45 PM

Dare lied to me growing up, no one gave away any drugs to me lol Great article though.

Benjanime Posted on Jul 26, 2022 at 03:20 PM

thanks so much for the comments, everyone!

onipar Posted on Jul 26, 2022 at 01:52 AM

Nice retrospective here. I vaguely remember DARE and other anti-drug, anti-smoking programs going through school.

Julie Posted on Jul 25, 2022 at 10:30 PM

Here is the official site:


Julie Posted on Jul 25, 2022 at 10:26 PM

And for those who can be interested, here is the gem:


Julie Posted on Jul 25, 2022 at 10:20 PM

AMAZING article, my perfect @Benjanime! ❤ Amazing initiative! ❤ Commendable! ❤

I never had drugs experience, thank God! And since my childhood, back in the 80's, drugs were a taboo. It really saddens me that the current culture praises that and other wrong things that, in the 80's and 90's, were (and are) wrong. I agree with your text here, my sweet @Benjanime, and I love you for the initiative on bringing back the good memories of a superior time in comparison with today. I love you! ❤❤

Mr Magic Posted on Jul 25, 2022 at 09:18 PM

I never did drugs in middle school. Still haven't to this day, so D.A.R.E. must've had SOME impact on me.

Vaporman87 Posted on Jul 25, 2022 at 08:38 PM

There is a lot content out there that blasts D.A.R.E. for being too simplistic in its approach, and for its ineffectiveness. That fact of the matter is it was a multi-pronged approach to a crisis that was blowing up all too quickly. There was little time to effectively create a campaign that covered every conceivable base. If nothing else, it definitely made a memorable impact, considering we're still talking about it today.

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