Just Say No to “Just Say No”


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Nancy Reagan speaking at a Just Say No rally.

The classic “Just say no” statement coined by Nancy Reagan serves as an outdated, ineffective approach to change a drug-addicted America.

America is currently undergoing one of the worst drug epidemics in history. The number of deaths from drug overdoses has shot up in America to more than 64,000 in 2016, and more than 30,000 of these deaths are from opioids such as heroin and oxycodone.

Former president Ronald Reagan launched a war on drugs to try and lower drug overdoses and deaths, and was met with colossal failure. Drug-related deaths have shot up in America, and his war on drugs is now mocked and disregarded.

While his efforts to combat the drug problem in America were admirable, Reagan and his wife Nancy went about it the wrong way. Ms. Reagan launched a “Just Say No” campaign which turned the solution to America’s addictions into a simplistic catchphrase. Reagan proposed that the simple solution was to simply say no.

This method prevented the youth of America from obtaining informative knowledge of drug use and drug abuse. Instead of teaching rebellious teens about how to use drugs safely if they are going to use them and the repercussions their action would have, the “Just Say No” campaign dumbed it down to exactly what the name suggests; just say no.

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Reaching for a joint, a teen girl makes a potentially life-altering decision.

The rebellion inside most teens screams at them to reject what their authority figures suggest, so naturally, teens won’t just say no. A follow up study by the National Institutes of Health discovered that the “Just Say No” campaign “had no favorable effects on youths’ behavior” and and even furthered teens to experiment with drugs.

To battle the drug epidemic, we must not simply teach kids to say no, but must battle the problem with facts and information regarding drug use and the effects of use and drug addiction. With more education, kids can decide for themselves whether or not that drug is worth taking. Simply commanding kids to say no doesn’t hold a flame to true education on the topic, and when we rework our education system to eliminate abstinence-based education, the next generation of America can make informed decisions for themselves and realize the true effects of the drugs they are taking.

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