Newest DARE Program, "Take Charge of Your Life," Is Ineffective and Counterproductive

Not a single study has ever found DARE to be effective in reducing alcohol and drug use or abuse. Because of its clear ineffectiveness, the program was finally cut from federal funding. In the face of losing money from the government, the management of the DARE corporation asked Zili Sloboda and Richard Stevens of the University of Akron to develop the new curriculum for DARE.

The curriculum developers were given a $13.7 Million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to evaluate the effectiveness of their curriculum, called Take Charge of Your Life.

The Take Charge of Your Life curriculum was taught to students in grades seven through nine. To evaluate its effectiveness, 20,000 seventh graders were enrolled in the study and followed for three years through the ninth grade. About half of the students received the TCYL curriculum while the other half did not.

Take Charge of Your Life was described by DARE as being based on the most best evidence and research-based strategies for alcohol and drug prevention among youth. From the very beginning the curriculum was widely touted by DARE on its website and in press reports as proving to be a great success.

The evidence has finally emerged that, far from being a success, the program is actually counterproductive. Sloboda and her colleagues have, years after the completion of the study, reported the negative results. The students who were taught Take Charge of Your Life actually increased alcohol consumption and cigarette use compared to those who were not.

DARE has remained very silent about the failure of its new program, which it has not adopted. Instead, it is using the relatively new "keepin' it REAL" curriculum, for which there is no evidence of effectiveness.



  • Sloboda, Z., Stephens, R.C. , Grey, S.S., Teasdale, B, Hawthorne, R.D., Williams, J., and Marquette, J.F. (2009) The adolescent substance abuse prevention study: A randomized field trial of a universal substance abuse prevention program. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 2009, 102(1-3), 1-10.


  • Aniskiewicz, R.E., and Wysong, E.E. Evaluating DARE: Drug education and the multiple meanings of success. Policy Studies Review, 1990, 9(4), 727-747.
  • Bangert-Drowns, R. The effects of school-based substance abuse education - A meta-analysis. Journal of Drug Education, 1988, 18, 243-265.
  • Cauchon, Dennis. D.A.R.E. doesn't work: Studies find drug program not effective. USA Today, 10-11-93.
  • DeJong, William. A short-term evaluation of project DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education): Preliminary indicators of effectiveness. Journal of Drug Education, 1987, 17(4), 279-294.
  • Educational Operations Concepts, Inc. An Evaluation of the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) Program in Minneapolis. Saint Paul, MN: Educational Operations Concepts, Inc., 1989.
  • Fain, John R., and Bohlander, Edward. DARE in Kentucky Schools, 1988-89: An Evaluation of the Drug Abuse Resistance Education Program. Bowling Green, KY: Western Kentucky University, Social Research Laboratory, 1989.
  • Ginn, Anthony C. Evaluation of Drug Abuse Resistance Education. M.S. thesis, University of South Carolina, 1994.
  • Lynam, Donald R., et al. Project DARE: No effects at 10-year follow-up. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 1999, 67(4), 590-593.
  • Manos, Michael J., et al. Evaluation of Honolulu Police Department's Drug Abuse Resistance Education Project. Maui, HI: University of Hawaii, School of Social Work, Youth Development and Research Center, 1986.
  • Nyre, G.F. An Evaluation of Project DARE. Los Angeles, CA: Evaluation and Training Institute, 1984.
  • Oklahoma Criminal Justice Resource Center. An Evaluation of D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) programs across Oklahoma: A pilot study. Oklahoma City, OK: Oklahoma Criminal Justice Resource Center, 1998.
  • Palumbo, D.J., and Ferguson, J.L. Evaluating Gang Resistance Education and Training (GREAT): Is the Impact the Same as That of Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE)? Evaluation Review, 1995, 19(6), 597-619.
  • Rocky Mountain Behavioral Science Institute. A model for evaluating D.A.R.E. and other prevention programs. News and Views Newsletter, 1995 (Fall).
  • Silfen, Roberta D. An Evaluation of the Effectiveness of the San Antonio Police Department' Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) Program. Ed.D. dissertation, Texas A and M University, 1992.
  • Tombs, Barbara S., et al. Preliminary Evaluation of Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) in Kansas. Topeka, KS: The Council, 1997.
  • Upton, Jodi. D.A.R.E. doesn't work: Popular anti-drug program not making a difference in metro Detroit - Money can be better spent elsewhere, some experts say. Detroit News, 2-27-00.
  • Van Burgh, Jill W. A Report of Outcomes of Project D.A.R.E. with Eighth Grade Students. 1995 . (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 423454).
  • Willis, Scott R. Effects of the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) Program: A Comparative Study. M.S. thesis, Central Washington University, 1995.
  • Zagumny, M.J., and Thompson, M.K. (1997). Does D.A.R.E. Work? An Evaluation in Rural Tennessee. Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education, 1997, 42, 32-41.

This site does not dispense medical, legal, or any other advice and none should be inferred.
For more fine print, read the disclaimer.