THE MAKING OF A DRUG-FREE AMERICA: Programs That Work by Mathea Falco


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Enthusiastic and well-researched but flawed survey of drug-prevention programs. Falco (a former assistant of state for international narcotics matters) describes neighborhood organizations formed to drive dealers off their block; programs to educate youngsters from third grade through high school; and prison treatment efforts. She first addresses a fact often ignored--that every year, 600,000 Americans die from alcohol and cigarettes, while only 10,000 die from illegal drugs. Falco then looks at prevention programs in schools: LST; STAR; DARE; SAP; Project Healthy Choices; Smart Moves; Start Smart; SSDP; Safe Haven Program; Strengthening Families. Who would have thought there were so many, especially with the percentage of the federal drug-budget spent on education and treatment declining (it now stands at 30%)? Falco offers a brief description of each program. She tells us that in STAR, for instance, junior-high-school students attend a curriculum about recognizing media and peer influence and take home assignments to stimulate family discussions on drugs. Falco's enthusiasm is contagious but the problem is that there has been follow-up on only three of these programs to see whether they actually work. Falco says these programs have favorable ""evaluations,"" but by whom and based on what criteria? And where she does provide statistics, they don't add up. Discussing programs for criminals, she says that the boot-camp approach doesn't work because 50% return to prison within 2.5 years. On the other hand, Delancey Street--a therapeutic community for criminals that Falco praises--has an initial 22% dropout rate, and 50% of those who leave the program later on ask for readmission. Curiously, AA--working in prisons for the past 40 years--goes unmentioned in her ""Treating Criminal Offenders"" chapter. Methodically weak, but, still, a good overview of prevention and treatment efforts.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1992
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Times Books