08 March 2006

Talking To Teens About Drugs

Not all anti-drug messages are created equal.

Telling teenagers that using drugs and alcohol will do nothing to help them become an independent adult seems to work better than preaching danger, according to a new study co-written by a Colorado State University professor.

By appealing to kids' desire to be independent and in control, a campaign tested over two years in 16 communities cut in half the number of students who began drinking or smoking marijuana.

"I think what we have relied on in the past was pretty much major fear appeals," said Kathleen Kelly, a marketing professor at Colorado State University who has been researching the topic for 15 years and was co-author of the study.

"Those kinds of messages, we have learned, tend to boomerang," Kelly said.

Public health messages are a much more reasonable anti-drug policy than a criminal justice based one, and as the blurb above notes, they can be quite effective if done in right, instead of Reefer Madness style.

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