TIPS FOR TALKING ABOUT DRUGS IN THE
Create a Positive Environment
Drug Prevention Lesson Plans For
More and more
schools are under pressure to educate their students about substance
abuse, sometimes during the school day, sometimes in after-school
activities. The following lesson plans are provided to help you with
that assignment. Below are links to lesson plans for different grade
levels. Each lesson plan describes the objective of the lesson, background
on the topic, resources and teacher tips, and then the activities to plan
for this class time. There are also downloadable PDF files containing
activity worksheets for you to share with your class.
Create a Positive
Drug education is
most effective when students feel comfortable sharing their ideas and
asking a lot of questions.
- Create a climate where
students feel comfortable approaching you, expressing feelings and
- Give all students an
opportunity to talk Ė the quiet ones often have questions to ask but
feel they do not get to share them.
- Demonstrate your interest in
the students and their concerns by asking appropriate questions.
- Listen to everything that a
particular individual has to say before formulating a response.
- Always leave the door open for
future conversations and communication.
Although it is essential that
educators provide students with accurate facts about drug abuse and its
side effects, prevention education also centers on listening. Listening
carefully and really hearing involve the following:
Listen to the words being communicated,
but also be aware of the non-verbal communication
that accompanies these words. Non-verbal cues indicating feelings of
fear, anger, or guilt are important for teachers to understand if they
are to be truly helpful to their students.
Listen by paying attention. Looking directly at a student
who is speaking is very confirming. It allows the student to believe
what he or she is saying is being listened to, is important, and is
being understood. Teachers need to be aware of their own non-verbal
behaviors when they listen, such as frowns when they disapprove of
something and smiles when they approve.
Listen without interrupting. Interrupting a person who is
trying to understand or be understood or trying to express feelings
about something very important, frightening or guilt-laden may result in
a shut-down at the very moment when an unclear or undeveloped thought is
about to be clarified.
Listen without judging. For students to learn through open
communication, you must permit them to speak and listen when they are
speaking. The very thoughts that might be responded to quickly in a
negative, judgmental way may be of great concern to the student.
Listen without giving advice. Giving advice is often an
easy way of dealing with a complex problem. Students attempting to cope
with the many issues associated with drug use must examine each issue
and may not respond to quick and seemingly easy solutions. Communication
takes time; giving advice often short-circuits the process.
When attempting to help school-aged
children deal with a world that uses alcohol, tobacco and other drugs,
consider the following:
- They are moving from total dependence
on their parents to shared dependence with parents and peers.
- They are very concerned and focused on
their maturing bodies and respond to information about health, nutrition
- They tend to see things as either black
or white; rules govern most aspects of their play and life. Legality
and morality have strong meaning for children this age.
- They view people and messages as they
want them to be, not necessarily as they are. Tobacco and alcohol
advertising often uses this "fantasy" appeal.
When attempting to intervene positively
in the lives of middle school youth, help them gain control of situations
and not be controlled by them, it is important to remember what motivates
- They are often controlled by the
moment, acting first and thinking about it later. What feels good at the
moment can easily dictate the choices they will make.
- They are keenly interested in their
bodies and appearance, in how to become stronger or more attractive.
This interest can provide a natural opening to teach them about the
health hazards of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.
- They are big risk takers, quick to test
limits, break rules and even flirt with death. They enjoy danger and
often believe they are invincible.
- They can think abstractly and are
sufficiently aware of their own future to see the benefits of education
and how their behavior can have long-term consequences.
- They are beginning to see shades of
gray and recognize that complex moral issues cannot always be defined in
black and white. They are influenced more by their own ability to make
moral judgments than by the opinions of those who have the power and
authority to tell them what to believe and how to behave.
- They are involved in their friendships.
It is through friendships that they explore the world, test out ways of
being and behaving, and acquire a sense of both belonging and identity.
It is critical that parents, teachers and other adults help them learn
how to develop healthy, positive friendships and reject friendships that
- They want to grow up, but they donít
always know how to do it successfully. They definitely need adults in
their lives to answer their questions, help with their problems, and
generally serve as models of healthy, responsible, mature behavior.
Drug prevention messages must have a
foundation of accurate, factual information from which youth can draw
conclusions about the dangers and long-term effects of drug-use. Still,
there are certain things educators should keep in mind when communicating
with high school students about substance abuse.
- They need to continue learning and
practicing how to resist peer pressure and to understand the valid
reasons for saying "no" to risky behaviors.
- They need to be allowed to make
independent decisions and to assume responsibility for choices that
affect them and others.
- They need to see that, as citizens,
they are responsible for making their communities better, safer places
- They like to explore different sides of
issues, examine various interpretations and justify their actions as
correct moral choices.