The Curry Coastal Pilot

Officials at Brookings-Harbor High School are reporting an unexpected increase in drug use among students.

The obvious question is, why? The Pilot is checking into it and will likely write a story based on what we discover. In the meantime, the school board is considering a program to combat drug use among students andndash; at an estimated cost of $7,000. The program would focus on, among several things, the importance of peer influences.

It's not a bad idea, but haven't we been there, done that?

So what is the answer?

There isn't one, single answer. And there likely never will be.

Programs that simply say that drugs are bad, and portray the negative consequences of drug use, have proven to effectively keep a certain percentage of students from experimenting with them. The "scared straight" approach, such as drug addicts sharing with students horror stories of drug use, effectly reach another percentage of students.

These types of programs, however, will never reach those students who will try drugs no matter what. The latest studies of student drug use in America reach the same conclusion: More than 50 percent of high school seniors admit experimenting with drugs.

How about a new approach?

In addition to basic drug prevention efforts, we should consider programs that identify and keep at-risk students (those who have tried or used drugs) away from long-term use and the addictions that may truly destroy their lives.

It's time to stop beating our heads against the wall and move beyond the status quo.