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“Lessons from the Street” is an introduction to drug education activity

Subject:

P.E. & Health  

Grades:

9, 10, 11, 12  

Title – Lessons from the Street: An Introduction to Drug Education
By – John Janowiak, Ph.D.
Primary Subject – Health / Physical Education
Grade Level – 9-12

Note:

    Despite 70 billion dollars and more than one million arrests, the “war on drugs” has only dented addiction and violent crime in the nation.

Objectives:

    Students will form opinions and draw logical conclusions regarding legal and illegal drugs of abuse, categorize drug samples into pharmacological groups, and discuss the availability and approximate costs of licit and illicit drugs.

Introduction:

“Adolescence is a time of great mysticism. Our culture usually doesn’t feed it, and we get all bottled up with problems like drug addiction and alcoholism, which are essentially quests for mysticism when shopping malls and TV don’t answer the soul’s needs.”

- Matthew Fox, O.P., Ph.D. – Roman Catholic Priest

      In 2004, 19.1 million Americans, or 7.9 percent of the population aged 12 or older, were current illicit drug users (1). Despite 70 billion dollars and more than one million arrests, the “war on drugs” has only dented addiction and violent crime in the nation. Governments have invested the largest proportion of their financial and personnel resources in trying to limit the availability of illegal drugs. Critics of our nations’ drug policy contend that the war is being fought on the wrong front.
      Paradoxically, few policy makers promote the reduction of alcohol, tobacco or pharmaceutical drugs through the imposition of similar controls. It has been reported that the annual advertising budget for just one brand name of “light beer” was 25 times greater than a recent annual prevention and education budget for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (2).
      In addition, drug education is often targeted at youth in contrast to adults in spite of evidence suggesting that the use of alcohol, tobacco and prescription drugs may increase dramatically throughout the lifecycle.
      Our students should know that 12.8 million Americans, or approximately 6 percent of the household population aged twelve and older, use illegal drugs on a current basis (within the past thirty days) (1). When teaching drug education, students often ask about the teacher’s personal experience with recreational drug use. These questions may include, “Did you ever smoke marijuana?” “Do you drink alcohol?” “Have you ever tried LSD?” Novice teachers are more likely to admit prior or even current drug use (especially legal ones such as alcohol) to their students than veteran educators are. Self-disclosure regarding personal drug use is not advised. It is better to reply to these questions with a response such as “To the best of my knowledge, when I was younger, the following recreational drugs were/weren’t available.”
    The following introductory drug education activity focuses on the most commonly used drugs, their uses and abuses, and the myths surrounding drug use in America. The traditional approach to teaching drug education often consists of the lecture format, which has been shown to be an ineffective teaching method. The instructional approach used in this teaching idea involves high-level cognitive and affective learning. Students become involved in their learning by working in groups, answering questions, and relating to visual materials.

Objectives:

      At the conclusion of this lesson, students will be able to:

    1. Form opinions and draw logical deductions regarding legal and illegal drugs of abuse.
    2. Present an overview of substance abuse while comparing and contrasting the availability and approximate costs of legal and illegal drugs.
    3. Categorize drug samples into pharmacological groups (e.g., Stimulants, Depressants, Hallucinogens, Narcotics, Cannabis, Organic Solvents.)

Materials:

  • 3″ x 5″ blank note cards or standard letter-size paper
  • Various bogus drug samples in small plastic bags and vials
  • Backpack or bag

Procedure:

  1. Print the numbers in Figure 1: Commonly Abused Drugs , formatted on one per sheet of standard letter-size paper or cardstock. The numbers are Americans over age twelve that report using a drug for non-medical reasons, based on the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Affix the cards to a wall or large blackboard.

    121,000,000    59,000,000    14,600,000    7,200,000    etc.

  2. Print sufficient copies of the Figure 2: Student Handout for all students.
  3. Divide the class into thirteen equal groups (at least two students per group). Ask one student per group to close his or her eyes and choose one item from a backpack or bag containing the following thirteen bogus drugs (or magazine pictures of drugs):
    Alcohol one-ounce minibottle of vodka
    Cigarettes one cigarette or one pack
    Marijuana dried oregano in a plastic bag
    Smokeless tobacco one tin smokeless tobacco
    Analgesics (Demerol, or Percodan, or Tylenol with codeine) white pills in prescription-type bottle
    Cocaine powdered sugar in a small vial
    Stimulants (amphetamines) small white homeopathic tablets
    Hallucinogens dried mushrooms
    Inhalants lighter fluid, spray paint, cleaning solvent
    Crack cocaine a mixture of baking soda and water, formed into a small cake and baked until hard (break into small ‘rocks’)
    Ecstasy flat round tablets in various sizes and colors (often white)
    Sedatives barbiturates, sleeping pills (any over-the-counter drug capsules)
    Heroin white powder in a small vial

    Note: to prevent student tampering, place powders and tablets in a clear medicine vial and put into a zip-lock plastic bag.

  4. Ask each group to respond to these questions:
    1. Describe the type of drug that your group selected and how it is used. What drug category does your sample fit in (narcotics, depressants, stimulants, hallucinogens, cannabis, or organic solvents)?
    2. Is the drug used for medical, legal recreational, illegal recreational, or illegal instrumental use (taking a prescription drug without a prescription, such as taking a non-prescribed amphetamine to drive through the night)?
    3. What is the approximate cost of the drug? Do you think that the drug is easy or hard to obtain?
  5. Ask students to place their “drug” (or tape its picture) under the numerical label that best represents the estimated number of Americans who use the particular drug. A chalkboard tray works very well.
    121, 000,000 59,000,000 14,600,000 7,200,000
    [Alcohol] [Cigarettes] [Marijuana] [S. Tobacco]
  6. Distribute the copies of Figure 2: Commonly Abused Drugs by Use . Have each group reposition their “drug” under the correct numerical label.
  7. Facilitate a discussion around the groups’ responses, to include the following:
    • Were you surprised by the number of users of any category of drugs?
    • Why are the two most widely used drugs legally available (alcohol & cigarettes)?
    • Do you believe that marijuana is more or less harmful than the use of tobacco products and should their regulation differ?
  8. To conclude, discuss the statistics of drug use by pointing out the widespread use and amount of money spent each year for legal and illegal substances.
    • Americans spend $104 billion for alcohol and $51.9 billion for tobacco products (95 percent on cigarettes).
    • Prescription drugs accounted for $176 billion while over-the-counter (patent) drug sales amounted to $23.5 billion.
    • In 2000, Americans spent about $36 billion on cocaine, $10 billion on heroin, $5.4 billion on methamphetamine, $11 billion on marijuana, and $2.4 billion on other substances.
    • Sixty percent of the world’s illegal drug market is in the U.S.A. (with 6% of the world’s population).

      Source: Hanson, G.R., Venturelli, P.J., & Fleckenstein, A.E. (2006). Drugs & Society (9 th ed.). Boston: Jones and Bartlett Pub. (3)

Assessment Technique:

      Students will have completed the activity when they are able to:
    1. Describe the type of drug their group selected and how it is used.
    2. Determine what category their drug sample fits in (Narcotics, Depressants, Stimulants, Hallucinogens, Cannabis, or Organic Solvents).
    3. Explain how the drug is used. For Medical, legal recreational, illegal recreational or illegal instrumental use.
    4. Approximate the cost of the drug sample and determine if it is easy to obtain.



      Figure 1: Commonly Abused Drugs

Users

121,000,000

59,000,000

14,600,000

7,200,000

4,400,000

1,530,000

1,200,000

929,000

857,000

467,000

450,000

333,333

166,000

Print the numbers in Figure 1: Commonly Abused Drugs formatted on one per sheet of standard letter-size paper or cardstock. Affix the cards to a wall or large blackboard.


Student Handout


      Figure 2: Commonly Abused Drugs by Use

Americans over age 12 who report using drugs for non-medical reasons within the past 12 months.

(Source:Department of Health and Human Services. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Office of Applied Studies, (2004). Results from the 2004 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: National Findings (Revised: 9/8/2005). Washington, DC).

Users

 

Substance (Type)

121,000,000   Alcohol (Depressant)
59,000,000   Cigarettes (Stimulant)
14,600,000   Marijuana and Hashish (Cannabis)
7,200,000   Smokeless Tobacco (Stimulants, such as chewing tobacco and snuff)
4,400,000   Analgesics (Narcotics, such as Darvon, Demerol, Percodan, Tylenol w/Codeine)
1,530,000   Cocaine (Stimulant)
1,200,000   Stimulants (Stimulants, such as amphetamines, diet pills, Preludin)
929,000   Hallucinogens (Hallucinogens such as Phencyclidine (PCP), Mescaline (Peyote), LSD, Psilocybin (mushrooms), Dimethyltryptamine (DMT), 3,4-Methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA))
857,000   Inhalants (Organic Solvents, such as lighter fluids, spray paints, airplane glue, cleaning solvents, Amyl Nitrite)
467,000   Crack Cocaine (Stimulant)
450,000   Ecstasy (Stimulant/Hallucinogen) MDMA (3-4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine)
333,333   Sedatives (Depressants, such as barbiturates, sleeping pills, Seconal)
166,000   Heroin (Narcotic)

References:

  1. Department of Health and Human Services. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Office of Applied Studies, (2004). Results from the 2004 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: National Findings (Revised: 9/8/2005). Washington, DC. Retrieved November 19, 2008 from http://www.oas.samhsa.gov/NSDUH/2k4NSDUH/2k4results/2k4results.htm
  2. Adams Beer Handbook. Adams Business Media, New York; 1998.
  3. Hanson, G.R., Venturelli, P.J., & Fleckenstein, A.E. Drugs & Society (9 th ed.). Jones and Bartlett Pub. Boston; 2006.

E-Mail John Janowiak, Ph.D. !

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