I would also be curious to see the data on D.A.R.E. and what makes them think it led to an increase in drug usage.
From the Washington Post:
One study even suggested that DARE students were more likely than their peers to experiment with drugs and alcohol. The authors of that study chalked that up to a possible boomerang effect: “an attempt to persuade resulting in the adoption of an opposing position instead.” Telling a certain type of kid that he shouldn’t do drugs may simply result in him trying drugs out of spite.
Here’s the full article, which discusses multiple studies of DARE that concluded on the ineffectiveness of the program. It’s an interesting read.
In fairness, it is a school curriculum rather than an ad on television so perhaps it isn’t an apples to apples comparison. But I think it does make the point that preventing drug use requires more nuance than a four word slogan.
Several years ago I read a really interesting book on the history of the United States’ efforts to combat illegal drug use. I can’t remember the book’s title, so I’ll stick to what’s easily verifiable, What I remember most is that Richard Nixon reduced the use of hard drugs like heroin in the 1970s by funding effective detox treatment centers.
I suspect that advertising to combat abuse of legal drugs is far more effective, for example with alcohol it’s usually about being killed by a drunk driver (MADD). The NIH government website cites an article on its effectiveness:
MADD is generally given credit for changing American attitudes toward drinking and driving. Since MADD's founding in 1980, alcohol-related traffic deaths in the United States have decreased from an estimated 30,000 to 16,694 in 2004, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This article examines the growth of MADD since its founding and attempts to gauge its contribution to the public's understanding of the impaired-driving problem and to the reductions in alcohol-related highway deaths and injuries that have occurred in the first 25 years of its existence.
Unfortunately, it cost $50 to view the full article for 24 hours.
Digging further, I found a full article available called “Don't drink and drive: the successful message of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)”. MADD provided a combination of successful lobbying for the passage of over 1,000 laws, an information campaign, support for victims of drunk driving, and over 100 chapters. Their campaigns had a direct effect on changing social norms:
Widespread youth and community programs have resulted in a modification of social norms, arguably the ultimate success in prevention. Drunk-driving "accidents" become "crashes caused by criminal negligence", altering a collective moral mentality. Random breath testing has also resulted in the promotion of "designated drivers" volunteers, whereby one person will elect not to drink to provide safe transportation for the remainder of the party. Free soft drinks will often be provided by the drinking establishment to this driver. This promotion acquires more mass media visibility around year end holidays. Introduction of these measures have had the uniform effect of reducing the incidence of offending drivers who drink over the prescribed limit.