"Scared Straight"

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Do "scared straight" programs work?

"Scared Straight"

Those who deal with young people at risk for drug use often struggle to find ways to deter addiction while providing honest information. One approach that has some adherents is to confront young people with the effects of addiction -- an approach named "scared straight," after a movie in which hard-core criminals talked to young delinquents about the consequences of a life of crime.

For instance, a sheriff's deputy in Washington state collects photos of people arrested for meth-related crimes, with mug shots from repeated arrests showing the addict's rapid physical deterioration. He then shows these to teens in presentations aimed at demonstrating the truth of meth addiction.

Other experts argue that fear-based tactics of prevention are not the best way to reach teens, that a more effective public policy approach would involve supporting teens in finding achievement-oriented activities that will keep them away from drugs. Researchers continue to investigate what prevention approaches will be most effective.



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