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Lessons > High School > Tobacco, Alcohol & Other Drug Prevention
Tobacco, Alcohol & Other Drug Prevention

18 Lessons


This lesson begins with defining the word drug. Students explore why teens might choose to use or not use drugs and learn about some of the risk and protective factors that can influence decisions around drugs. After discussing the role of personal responsibility in choices around drugs, they learn about some different categories of drugs and the effects on the body right away and over time.


This lesson addresses the subject of drug addiction. Students discuss what being addicted means and how this phrase is used in relation to drugs. They read and teach each other about addiction, including how it changes the brain, factors that can contribute, stages and negative consequences. They practice identifying the stages of addiction using case studies, and then use what they’ve learned to write a story about a high school student who becomes addicted to a specific drug.


This lesson focuses on the difference between proper use, misuse and abuse of prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Students brainstorm a list of legal prescription and over-the-counter drugs, and discuss the benefits these medications can provide. They review and practice how to read a label for proper use of both kinds of drugs. Then they discuss how prescription and over-the-counter drugs can be misused and abused, and the reasons people might do this. They work in pairs to read scenarios about teens’ experiences with some prescription or over-the-counter drugs and analyze which are examples of proper use, misuse and abuse.


This lesson focuses on the dangers of opioid misuse and the importance of treatment for recovery. Students read some real-world stories about opioid addiction, then work in small groups to summarize the negative consequences of opioid misuse and examine the role of treatment in recovery. They summarize their learning by writing a blog post to encourage other teens to avoid opioid addiction.


This lesson covers the negative consequences of vaping and other tobacco use, including short- and long-term physical, psychological and social effects, and the negative consequences of being exposed to secondhand smoke or vaping aerosol. Students discuss why teens might start vaping or using other tobacco products and examine perceived and actual norms around use among high school students. They read about and summarize short- and long-term physical, psychological and social effects of vaping and other tobacco product use and the negative consequences of being exposed to secondhand smoke or vaping aerosol. Then they use what they’ve learned to write a message supported by the facts that would convince someone to not vape or use any other tobacco product.


This lesson focuses on quitting the use of tobacco products. Students review reasons people choose not to vape or use other tobacco products and learn about the benefits of quitting. After discussing the power of nicotine addiction and how teens are susceptible, they work in small groups to read and teach each other about 5 keys to quitting. Then they complete an activity sheet in which they practice giving advice on how to stop using to a friend.


In this lesson, students explore the effects of alcohol, with an emphasis on the dangers of binge drinking. Students begin by brainstorming what they know about the physical, mental, social and legal consequences of alcohol use. They review norms around teens and alcohol use and examine the issues of binge drinking and driving under the influence. Then they complete a questionnaire to personalize ways alcohol use could negatively affect their lives and analyze the benefits of being alcohol free.


This lesson covers the negative effects of marijuana use. After brainstorming what they know or have heard about marijuana, students work in small groups to read about marijuana and then use what they’ve learned to respond to a sample situation and counter myths about marijuana. They review actual norms around teens’ use of marijuana, then discuss and personalize the negative consequences of marijuana use and the benefits of remaining marijuana free.


This lesson discusses laws and school policies about tobacco, alcohol and other drugs. Students review a sample school policy on drugs, then read a story about a student whose actions violate those rules and discuss the consequences, including how the use of alcohol or other drugs can contribute to other risky behaviors. Students review their own school’s policy and state or local laws about drug use, and analyze how the outcome of the story they read would have been the same or different based on these laws. Then they discuss the reasons behind drug laws and age restrictions. For homework, they take home a family sheet to help them discuss their families’ rules around drug use.


In this lesson, students learn about warning signs of drug use problems and how to get help. They brainstorm and discuss warning signs of drug use, including the concept of denial. They examine why a person might be in denial about a drug use problem and the negative consequences of denial. They learn about the importance of professional help and treatment for drug use problems, and identify adults at school who could assist students experiencing alcohol or other drug problems in getting professional help. Then they apply what they’ve learned to analyze a story about a student who’s using alcohol.


This lesson helps students analyze influences on tobacco, alcohol and other drug use. Students begin by brainstorming ways various factors can have a positive or negative influence on teens’ choices around drugs. They examine both internal and external influences, then they analyze several case studies to identify key influences, including the use of alcohol or other drugs to handle stress. Then they create their own case studies to illustrate how various factors can influence a young person’s choices around drug use.


This lesson helps students analyze media influences on vaping and the use of other tobacco products, alcohol and other drugs. Students share examples of advertising or other media messages that can encourage drug use, and examine the influence of advertising. They review the negative consequences of vaping, other tobacco products and alcohol that are not identified in ads or pro-use media messages. Then they create their own messages that present the facts about drug use and negative consequences to promote prevention and help their peers resist media influences.


In this lesson, students learn decision-making skills that can help them avoid drug use. They read and analyze a story to identify the negative effects of club drugs and the decision points that led to negative outcomes. They learn the steps in a decision-making process. Then they use what they’ve learned to help the characters in the story make different decisions that protect their health and lead to a safer ending.


This lesson introduces refusal skills. After reviewing guidelines for saying NO effectively, students practice words and actions that will help them say NO to tobacco, alcohol and other drug use. They observe demonstration roleplays to analyze what makes a refusal effective. Then they practice refusal skills by completing and performing a half-scripted roleplay.


In this lesson, students apply the refusal skills they’ve learned to resist pressure to use drugs and stick to a decision to be drug free. After reviewing effective refusal skills, students create and practice original roleplays that demonstrate those skills. They present their roleplays to the class and receive feedback on the effectiveness of their use of refusal skills.


In this lesson, students use what they’ve learned in this unit to advocate for being drug free. They discuss what they can do to help younger siblings and middle and high school students stay drug free. Then they learn about advocacy skills, including how to adapt messages for an intended target audience. They learn the definition of advocacy campaign, discuss examples of advocacy activities, then work in small groups to read some different scenarios and write messages that support being drug free geared to the appropriate audience in each situation. They use this work to create public service announcements that will reach their peers with the message that avoiding tobacco, alcohol or other drug use is the best choice for teens.


This culminating activity assesses student learning for the unit through a written exam.


In this culminating activity, students create a newsletter for middle school students who’ll be attending their high school next year. They’ll use the newsletter to share accurate, reliable information about drugs, summarize the harmful short- and long-term effects of alcohol and other drugs, explain factors influencing drug use, discuss the benefits of being drug free, and provide strategies for staying drug free. Students will independently review and research information for use in writing an article about one drug or group of drugs. The article will be peer reviewed by members of the group. Students will work together in cooperative groups to create the newsletter.