You know what I’m retroactively pissed about? DARE.

Well, okay. Probably about half the reason I’m pissed about them is because I had a phobia of mind-altering substances (as I still do) when I went through the program and thus spent the entire time having a panic attack. That kind of soured me on the whole idea.

But the entirety of DARE, as I recall it in between panic attacks, was about how people are going to peer-pressure you into taking drugs. I spent quite a lot of time terrified of this, because basically the only thing I find scarier than drugs is the idea of people pressuring me into things.

As it happens, I attend a college that is one of the top schools for drug use in the entirety of the United States. I lived with a dealer for a while; I’ve slept with multiple enthusiastic drug users. I have experience here.

What DARE Led Me To Believe Would Happen In This Circumstance:

Them: Hey, we’re going to trip. Wanna join in?
Me: No, thank you.
Them: Come on, are you chicken? Don’t be uncool.
Me: Panic attack.

What Actually Happened:

Them: Hey, we’re going to trip. Wanna join in?
Me: No, thank you.
Them: Okay, cool. I have a lot of respect for the straightedge lifestyle, you know. The important thing is that you know what’s right for you and your body. This sort of thing isn’t right for everyone! It’s really great that you know that about yourself.

I suppose that it’s possible all the horrible pressurey people are hiding somewhere and I just happened to run into all the aggressively tolerant drug users. (The previous sentence was not sarcastic. I have a habit of running into nice people. It’s weird. I am the only trans person in the world who never had a friend respond badly to their request to use gender-neutral pronouns.) But most of the people I know didn’t start using because someone peer-pressured them into it; it was more like “hey, want some?” and they were like “sure.”

I feel like this is the problem you run into when you try to construct an entire anti-drug program without acknowledging that drugs are fun. They make you feel good and see interesting colors and feel a deep sense of connection to the universe and stuff. Even the ones that are a bad idea to take are really fun! That’s why people fucking take them. And while peer group does play a role in access to drugs and making drugs seem like a Thing That Normal People Do and there are people who get coerced or worse into taking drugs, most people who take them take them because they’re fun.

If you can’t say that drugs are fun, because that might encourage people to (gasp) try drugs, then you don’t really have an explanation for why people would risk ODing and being arrested and attempting to hug Hell’s Angels and similar utility-reducing consequences of drug use. So you’re stuck with “…peer pressure?”