Where is the ‘reality’ in ‘reality-based’ drug prevention?


Dr. Marsha Rosenbaum’s recent opinion piece (2016)calling for“reality-based”drug prevention and accom-panying prevention program“Safety First: A RealityBased Approach to Teens and Drugs”(Rosenbaum2014) prompts the question: what is reality?If social science is to be believed, researchers mustremove their subjective perception of“reality”and turntheir attention to objective data. Rosenbaum claims thatharm reduction programs are effective because they arebased on“reality,”and yet, this“reality”is not based uponempirical data. The history of drug policy is riddled withexamples of policy and practice based on anecdotes orfaulty evidence, such as when states used draconian man-datory minimum sentencing laws intended to deter drugcrimes or when the U.S. turned a blind eye to over-pre-scribing pain medication. To learn from these mistakes,we must take an evidence-based approach to drug policy.
Theodore L. Caputi
Theodore L. Caputi
Economics & Health Researcher

My research interests include public health, health innovation, and health care.