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Future Educators of America Need Access to Drug Prevention Resources!

Today’s kids see drugs and alcohol everywhere. Drugs are on television, on the street, in big cities and in small towns. Starting at an early age, kids get mixed messages about how drugs and alcohol can impact their life. As an educator and a role model, you have the opportunity and responsibility to teach about the risks as early and often as possible.

Giving young people the facts about what drugs are out there and what they can do is a critical first step in prevention. Kids who already know about the dangers of drugs and alcohol before they get into a risky situation are 50 percent less likely to use, according to the Partnership at Drugfree.org. That puts the responsibility on adults to start those conversations and inform kids using the right resources.

Talking about drugs isn’t always an easy conversation to start. This guide provides important resources for all educators, mentors and parents who are ready to navigate these difficult conversations. The classroom can be an environment where students have a safe, open space to ask questions and get the facts.

Framing the Conversation
Research shows that drug education works best when lesson plans are student-focused, interactive and designed to include small group work, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Learning through action, discussion and critical observation helps kids link classroom knowledge to real-life situations. Use this guide to help frame drug education lesson plans.

Teaching kids the facts and debunking myths is an important first step to start any conversation about drugs and alcohol. Misinformation and myths are prevalent so it is important to get the facts straight. If students don’t feel comfortable talking to an adult, they may turn to unreliable sources. Equip students with a toolkit of information and trusted resources.

Have students take the American Council for Drug Education’s Youth Quiz. Talk about the quiz questions and answers as a class and research topics that students missed most frequently. Visit sites such as drugabuse.gov and instruct students to browse drug databases and fact sheets. Start a conversation by talking about street names for drugs, and make lists under their different categories such as inhalants and prescriptions.

Drug and Alcohol Influences
A major concern related to youth drug abuse is the influence of the media and Internet. According to a recent study teens are consuming up to eight hours of media and technology a day. Monitoring all of that content as a parent or teacher is impossible. Talk o students about what kind of information they get from television and Internet sources. Have students provide examples of drug abuse from the media. Talk about the importance of media literacy, and the way alcohol or cigarette commercials influence young people. Talk about the Above the Influenceanti-drug campaign and how it may or may not work.

Activities
Engage students in hands-on learning through activities. Have students paint an anti-drug/alcohol/tobacco mural, create anti-drug art projects or posters, plan a youth health day for the school or survey local businesses in the community about inhalant products that are accessible for young people to buy or steal. Include multimedia components to drug education lesson plans. Show a video or documentary about drug addiction or abuse.

Resources
The websites below have further ideas for lesson plans and teacher resources:

  • The American Council for Drug & Education has a list of lesson plans by grade including activities, worksheets and teacher tips
  • PBS generated a list of lesson plans and discussion guides for middle and high school age students that include activity suggestions and videos to supplement classroom work
  • The National Crime Prevention Council has lesson plans and activities created by teachers, principals and law enforcement officers for elementary school children
  • The Time to Talk website is a useful resource for generating conversations about drugs and alcohol with its “Talk Kit” podcasts, videos and guides

Most people try drugs for the first time as a teenager, and young people in their late teens and twenties are among the highest drug users in America, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. As an educator you have an opportunity to prepare students for those difficult moments when they are confronted with drugs and alcohol in a social setting. Understanding the risks of drugs and alcohol is the best way you can empower students to make the right decisions when they count the most.

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