Just Say No To ‘Just Say No’ –
OCT 14, 2019 – Yesterday’s crisis was AIDS, caused by a virus spread primarily through unprotected sex. Today’s crisis is drug overdoses caused as people who use illegal drugs increasingly find the drug supply adulterated with potent fentanyl. And in both cases, education that emphasizes abstinence first, rather than pointing to pragmatic and realistic attempts to make behavior less risky, has proven to be counterproductive. Even mortality numbers look eerily the same. More than 700,000 people have died from AIDS-related causes in the U.S., and 700,000 people died from accidental overdose in the U.S. between 1999-2016, with rates increasing in recent years. Yet once again, instead of treating the problem with a public-health solution, the United States is investing more than a billion dollars each year in abstinence-only education that does little more than stigmatize and stymie our capacity to keep ourselves and each other safe.