By Myra Davis
Drug use is an epidemic that has plagued people of all ages for a very long time, not just in the United States but around the world. Modern-day drug use has become a very serious issue and also has a very potent effect on children, pre-teens, and teenagers. Sadly, some people who use drugs become addicted and can lose their families, their homes, and, in extreme cases, their lives. Many drug abusers admit to starting their drug use habits in their pre-teen and teenage years. Peer pressure and societal pressures can play a pivotal role in whether or not kids decide to use drugs. Once this cycle of using and/or abusing drugs begins, without proper understanding or guidance, it can become a very serious addiction and a life-threatening problem in some instances.
Teaching kids about drugs, their effects and aftermath, is a powerful tool in making sure that the next generation won’t become addicts. Educators and parents should do their best to teach kids about drugs and why they are harmful. The more information children have about drugs, the better informed they will be if they’re ever presented with a situation where there is drug use around them. Students should also learn about the dangers that drug use can pose and the effects it has on the human brain and body. Creating the whole picture for students so that they understand how drugs can affect them both emotionally and physically is essential. Correlate the relationship between drug abuse and things like violence, crime, and even physical appearance. When students can see a relationship between drug use and real life, it makes the seriousness much more real.
There are many resources available to educators and parents that can help you teach children about the harms of drug abuse. Whether it is through lesson plans in the classroom, guest speakers at school, or peer groups, learning about drugs is key to prevention. As a community, everyone should get involved so that kids feel like they have a solid support network. Local police precincts will also be happy to volunteer and speak at your school and educate kids about drug use and abuse. When everyone pulls together to show support for kids, they will feel more confident in their choices to avoid drug use. It is not always easy to talk to students about drugs. But with good resources, teachers and parents can help to explain drug abuse in a way that kids will understand and remember.
The key to helping kids avoid drug use is to let them know how much the risks outweigh the benefits. When students know that drugs are more harmful than they are good, they will be more prone to say no to their peers and others who might pressure them to use them. Educators should also pay close attention to current drug trends and watch out for newer “designer” drugs. Find out which types of drugs are currently considered more popular than others with young teens. Then, create a plan to educate students about the dangers of these new fad drugs, along with the dangers of more traditional drugs like marijuana, cocaine, and even prescription medication. Let students know that there is always someone they can talk to if they need help or are worried about drug use issues. Counseling should be provided in the school, or referrals can be made for kids who might be struggling with drug use. Working together to help keep kids educated about drug use is the best way to help ensure that they enjoy a safe, drug-free adulthood.
- Deadly Highs Lesson Plan
- Drugs + Your Life
- Too Smart to Start Lesson Plans
- The Drug Dope Show Lesson Plan
- The Brain: Drug Abuse and Addiction
Resources and Materials
- D.A.R.E. America
- Drug Facts for Teens
- Drug Facts
- Taking Action to Prevent and Address Prescription Drug Abuse
- Parents 360: Guide on Synthetic Drugs (PDF)
Where to Get Help
- Overcoming Drug Addiction
- Teen Drug Abuse: Help Your Teen Avoid Drugs
- Teens and Drugs: What a Parent Can Do to Help
- Dealing with Addiction
- Narcotics Anonymous: Recovery Literature
Activities, Games, and Quizzes
- Drug Prevention Activities: Reaching Youth Before Drugs Do
- Drug Abuse Self-Test
- Do I Have a Drug Problem? (Quiz)
- Substance Abuse Printable Jeopardy Game
- Drug Abuse Crossword Puzzle
- SADD Campaigns and Activities
- List of Continuing Drug Abuse Educational Resources
- Operation Snowball Program
- 360 Youth Services: Mentoring
- Courage to Speak: Middle School Curriculum and Programs