Using scare tactics to discourage drug use can be very appealing for family members & schools who are…well…scared.

On a daily basis the YoDAA team receives calls for family members, schools, or even youth workers who are searching for a professional fear monger who will provide a life altering lesson for a young person they care about.

This professional will preferably be young and have used substances. World weary, tough talking and with a couple of jail tatts to add credibility to their message.  This reformed substance user will speak to their sports club, school group or child about the unspeakable horrors of substance use in such a way, that they will be forever scared – and be a lot safer for it.

YoDAA even gets the occasional contact from professional speakers who offer their own experience to such groups as a lesson learned. Some of these speakers offer rich insights and a balanced, accurate portrayal of the choices they made and provide encouragement and inspiration to young people. Others focus on the harms and minimise the factors that led them to make the choices in the first place, presenting substance use as a moral weakness or poor choice.

This is a problematic approach for young people who may already be using substances or who have tried them and remain unscathed.

It is also a missed opportunity.

The YoDAA team believes anyone who cares enough to engage and respect young people, can have an impact on their substance use. It is for this reason that we encourage our callers to consider what it is they hope to achieve through scare tactics and alternate approaches. 

rather than bringing in an ‘expert’ to scare them...listen to their own experience, thoughts, motivations and future hopes

Also to acknowledge the expertise young people already have about their own lives and rather than bringing in an ‘expert on drugs’ to scare them, listening to what they have to say about their own experience, thoughts, motivations and future hopes.

The team have created the following articles to further explain to schools and families the risks of a fear based approach as well as  some more effective alternatives when talking about drugs with young people.

Why Scare tactics don’t work – YoDAA For Schools

Scaring a young person into not using drugs – YoDAA for Families