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Tobacco, Alcohol & Other Drug Prevention

Lesson 6: Experimentation & Addiction: What's the Truth?

Teaching Steps

Get students ready for learning

Transition

On a piece of paper, write 1 negative consequence that would help you decide not to use drugs.

Allow students to focus and work quietly for a minute or two.

Now let’s go around the room and share what you wrote.

Call on students to share the negative consequences they wrote. As students share, write the consequences they name on the board. Continue until each student has shared or a variety of consequences have been named.

Motivate

Today, you’ll learn how people can go from experimenting with drugs to becoming addicted.

Have you ever tried to stop a habit and had a hard time doing it?

Allow a few students to share examples. These might include drinking coffee or energy drinks, playing video games or watching TV.

When are some times you’ve heard someone use the word addiction?

Allow students to share examples.

We sometimes use the term addiction to describe anything it’s hard to stop doing. But drug addiction has a very specific meaning and there are distinct stages a person goes through when becoming addicted to a drug.

Teach about stages of addiction

Stages of Addiction Cards

Complete

Put students into groups of 4 or 5. Give each group a shuffled set of Stages of Addiction Cards. 

Work with your group to read about the different stages of addiction and put them in order.

Allow time for groups to read about the stages and place the cards in order.

Stages of AddictionPrepare

Show the Stages of Addiction slide and refer to it as you review the stages in order.

Ask & Discuss

What is the first stage a person goes through when becoming addicted to a drug?

Allow groups to share their answers, then discuss.

First Use is when the person tries a drug for the first time. People may experiment with tobacco, alcohol or other drugs out of curiosity, to fit in because friends use, to rebel or to get high. The drug changes how the person feels.

What is the second stage of addiction?

Allow groups to share their answers, then discuss.

Continued Use is when the person keeps using the drug to feel a certain way. But after the high is over, the brain doesn’t go back to normal right away. Brain changes from repeated drug use can last from several days to many weeks or months.

What is the third stage of addiction?

Allow groups to share their answers, then discuss.

Tolerance develops next. When a person developes tolerance it takes more of the drug to get high. This is because, over time, the brain adjusts to the drug, so it takes more of the drug to cause the same effects. Tolerance is a warning sign of addiction.

What is the fourth stage of addiction?

Allow groups to share their answers, then discuss.

Dependence occurs when the brain gets so used to the drug that it can’t work without it. The person needs the drug to feel “normal.” When the person stops using the drug, he or she gets sick and goes through withdrawal. The withdrawal symptoms go away when the person uses again. This is a sign of addiction.

What is the final stage of addiction?

Allow groups to share their answers, then discuss.

Addiction is when the person can’t stop using the drug, even when the drug use causes serious problems. He or she will do just about anything to get the drug. The person may suffer negative health effects, spend all of his or her money on the drug, or lose friends and family because of the drug use. But he or she refuses to admit that the drug is the cause of these problems. Denial is a sign of addiction.

Allow groups to rearrange their cards into the proper order, if necessary.

Examine reasons for drug use

Explain

Before a person can become addicted, he or she has to start using a drug. This is the first stage of addiction. Understanding the reasons this happens can help you stay drug free.

Ask & Discuss

Why might teens begin using or experimenting with tobacco, alcohol or other drugs?

Allow students to respond to the question and discuss their ideas. List their responses on the board.

Summarize

Some teens begin using and experimenting with drugs:

  • To fit in
  • To do better in school or at sports
  • Because their friends use drugs
  • Because they think their friends use drugs
  • Because they are curious
  • To feel older
  • To ease physical or emotional pain

Examine dangers of experimentation

Ask & Discuss

Why is it dangerous to experiment with any kind of drug?

Allow students to respond to the question and discuss their ideas.

Summarize

People can’t tell how they’ll react to a drug before they use it. A drug can hurt the body or cause negative consequences even the first time a person uses it.

The biggest problem with experimenting with any drug is that it can lead to addiction. You can’t know who will become addicted and who won’t. Many risk factors can influence addiction. These include family history, whether peers use, and at what age a person begins to use. This is why experimentation is so dangerous.