When you are a teacher or administrator, you want to give your students a chance to learn about themselves while staying safe. Often, when children are trying to discover who they are, their searches involve experimenting with potentially dangerous drugs and alcohol.
It can be difficult to teach students about the dangers of these substances, but the right tools can help give children the information they need to make good, healthy choices as they grow.
Evidence-based resources can make your job much easier. They can help you raise awareness about the dangers of abusing substances and becoming addicted to them.
Red Ribbon Curriculum
For example, you can find informative resources through the Red Ribbon Campaign. The campaign provides substance use disorder education and awareness tools for all grades. It provides lessons that focus on grade groups. The main groups are kindergarten through fifth grade (K-5), 6-8, and 9-12.
The campaign divides these groups into smaller groups of one- or two-grade level segments. After that, the Red Ribbon Campaign divides the lessons by subjects that include history/social studies, health/science, language, and mathematics. In all, the program offers several lesson plans to help educators teach students about alcohol, tobacco, and drugs. Titles include:
- Labeling Drugs for grades K-3
- Drugs and Future Goals for grades 3-5
- Drugs of Abuse for grades 6-8
- Drugs and Peer Pressure for grades 9-12
In addition, the Red Ribbon Campaign also offers many videos and articles to enhance the learning experience and keep students engaged.
National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA)
A government agency that conducts and discusses research on drug abuse and addiction, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) offers current, evidence-based information and tools to teach students about the health effects and potential consequences of engaging in substance use disorder and addiction.
The agency offers resources to help educators communicate with students of all ages. Its lesson plan and activity finder allows teachers and parents to search for monthly lessons according to drug topics. All of NIDA’s offerings are free and meet national standards. They include:
- The Real Risks of Marijuana: Developed in partnership with Scholastic, this lesson helps students to understand the potential health risks of marijuana use. It discusses short- and long-term health effects, how marijuana can negatively affect lives, and the science of addiction.
- A Dangerous Mix: Scholastic also helped create this lesson, which helps to educate teens about the dangers of mixing drugs with alcohol. The lesson also discusses addiction and how its risks increase when people mix substances.
- Acids, Bases, and Cocaine Addicts: This interactive module introduces high school students to biological and chemical principles related to cocaine and crack cocaine. Students learn about drug structures and administration methods. The lesson also includes information about the lungs and how their functioning can affect other processes in the body.
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Office of National Drug Control Policy
Part of the executive branch of the U.S. federal government, the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy provides resources to help educators teach students about substance use disorder and addiction dangers. The tools include:
- A database that includes lesson plans and activities
- A health education curriculum analysis tool
- Free educational brochures and posters
- A teacher’s guide to encourage connectedness in schools
- A drug fact sheet for teens
- Videos and infographics about the effects of drugs
- A test about drugs and alcohol to determine knowledge about addiction
Scholastic offers a program about substance use disorder and addiction called Drugs + Your Body: It Isn’t Pretty. In this program, educators will find a lesson plan, printable worksheets, answer keys, and a color poster.
Through the program, students can learn the scientific facts of substances while using critical thinking skills to help them understand the effects that drugs can have on their brains and bodies. They will also learn about how substances affect society.
The goal is for students to have a much clearer idea of the way that specific substances can affect the body-brain balance and understand the potential long-lasting physical and mental issues related to drug use. Students will also learn the ways that drug use stretches far beyond the individual to affect friends and families.
Operation Prevention offers resources that provide teachers with tools that meet the national health and science standards for all grades. This program offers opportunities for students to participate in hands-on investigations that introduce them to the science of opioids and how the substances work in the brain and body.
Elementary lessons include topics such as:
- The path that medications take through our bodies
- The importance of taking the right amount of medication
- The dangers of curiosity about illegal and prescription drugs
Middle school lessons include topics such as:
- The effects of opioids on the body and brain
- The repercussions of the opioid epidemic on society
High school lessons include topics such as:
- The science, signs, and symptoms of opioid use
- The public health crisis surrounding opioids
Preventing substance use disorder and addictions starts with education, and this education can start early. Using evidence-based substance use disorder prevention programs can be an invaluable tool in ensuring that students understand the risks and dangers of exploring drug and alcohol use.
If you find that you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction, you should know that there is help for you to overcome it. There are many effective addiction treatment programs that can get you started on a successful recovery journey.
- efeschoolcounselor.com – 2020-2021 Red Ribbon Week
- teens.drugabuse.gov – Teachers: Classroom Resources on Drug Effects
- whitehouse.gov – Substance Use Prevention: A Resource Guide for School Staff
- scholastic.com – Drugs + Your Body
- operationprevention.com – School Resources: Opioid and Prescription Drugs
Sunshine Behavioral Health strives to help people who are facing substance abuse, addiction, mental health disorders, or a combination of these conditions. It does this by providing compassionate care and evidence-based content that addresses health, treatment, and recovery.
Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals.