As students grow older, many will be confronted by the opportunity to take drugs and participate in activities involving smoking and alcohol. For these reasons, it is a priority in many school systems to teach students about the harmful effects of drugs. Teachers can set up professional programs in their local community to come in and speak with their class about substance abuse. There are also many lesson plans that teachers can use to communicate with their students about drugs.

D.A.R.E.

Many elementary school systems already have D.A.R.E. programs. D.A.R.E., or Drug Abuse Resistance Education, makes a great project for students. Students spend a whole class period with a police officer who teaches them about the dangers of drugs, plans fun activities that are appropriate for each grade level, and offers tips and advice to students. If your school system does not have a D.A.R.E. program in place, talk to school administrators about starting one for your classroom.

Smoking Cessation

Talk about the harmful effects of smoking as well as how addictive tobacco is before you begin this activity. As a homework assignment, ask students to find someone that they, their family members or their friends know who has been smoking for 10 years. Have them ask the person whether he wishes he had never started smoking. Have students bring their answers to class and discuss their meaning. Make sure students know you are not criticizing people who smoke, merely showing that many longtime smokers suffer health or addiction problems and wish they had never smoked.

Saying No

One of the most important things for students to learn is how to say no to their peers who ask them to get involved in drugs. Let students know that you understand how difficult it can be to say no to someone they like hanging out with. Then, give the students strategies for how they can say no. Tell them they can either explain why they do not want to do drugs or suggest an activity they would rather spend time on. Have students role-play in the classroom to give them practice in determining what to say.

Alternatives to Drugs

Ask students to create a calendar of social activities their community offers. Students can find this information online, at local businesses or on school bulletin boards. This activity is extremely effective, because sometimes students feel they have nothing better to do than drugs or alcohol. By teaching students new ways to find fun activities in their community without drugs, you help them use these strategies later in life.