D.A.R.E. program can't prevent all drug use - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

D.A.R.E. program can't prevent all drug use

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By Laura Geller - bio | email

Posted by Terry Alexander - email

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - While Henrico Police arrested almost 200 fewer offenders for pot possession between 2007 and 2008, the D.A.R.E. statewide coordinator says there will always be a certain population of would-be offenders they simply can't reach.

"I don't ever want to say it's going down enough. Our ultimate goal is obviously zero that's what we would love to see. I don't know that we'll ever obtain that," said Master Trooper Gene Ayers.

Henrico Sheriff Mike Wade deals with drug users once they've already been caught for possession. But if law enforcement could stop marijuana usage, they might be able to prevent the snowball effect.

"I bet you can't find a heroin addict that didn't do marijuana at some point in time," said Wade.

Currently incarcerated drug offenders say while they remember bits and pieces of information from the D.A.R.E. program, it wasn't enough to transcend other adolescent obstacles.

22-year-old Jeremy Loving, who's incarcerated for marijuana charges, remembers all the way back to fifth grade when a D.A.R.E. officer visited his class.

"They would give a whole bunch of information about what the drugs were, what they did, the cause and effects and what they did to your brain," said Loving.

Johnathan Lumberger only recalls vague pieces of the program.

"Just talking about different kind of drugs and stuff like that and how they're not good for us," Lumberger said.

But these two men now reside behind razor wire in jail. The prevention efforts when they were kids weren't enough to stop drug use.

"All of the guys and stuff I looked up to were smoking it and made it look cool and TV made it look cool, rappers make it look cool so I figured maybe it wasn't as bad as people say it is," said Lumberger.  "Peer pressure probably took over the information that I did get from the D.A.R.E. program."

Both say, it may have been helpful to have someone other than a law enforcement officer giving the information.

"Showing us somebody that is or was incarcerated for marijuana or somebody that was using it, probably having them come and share with us the certain places where marijuana took them," said Lumberger.

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