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“Just Say No”

  • By: Stephen T. Schroth, Jason A. Helfer & Jordan K. Lanfair
  • In: Encyclopedia of Drug Policy
  • Edited by: Mark A. R. Kleiman & James E. Hawdon
  • Subject:Public Policy, Drug Crimes

The “Just Say No” campaign was a public health initiative started by Nancy Reagan during the Reagan administration. The campaign arose from the substance-abuse prevention programs favored by the National Institutes of Health. These programs were initially undertaken at the University of Houston's Social Psychology Program under Dr. Richard I. Evans's leadership. Evans, along with a research group at the university, advocated for what he termed a “social inoculation” model that was meant to provide children and youth with the psychological and interpersonal skills necessary to resist peer pressure and other social influences that might lead to drug use. Although popular with certain constituencies, the “Just Say No” program has been derided by many as ineffective and inept and focusing on drug problems that affected ...

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