Teaching children about drug and alcohol abuse remains crucial in helping them grow to become healthy and productive adults. Lesson plans are available from a variety of sources, but if you are developing your own lesson plans for a classroom, concentrate on the areas that have proved to be successful, such as teaching children how to handle peer pressure and other problems without turning to substance abuse.
Teach students about the names and types of common drugs. Explain how drugs work in the body and how their effects alter body chemistry over time, and correct any misconceptions your students may have. For example, your students may believe that drug use occurs only in inner cities or in places associated with dark or criminal activity. As students become more educated about drugs, the mystery and excitement surrounding those drugs will diminish. They will also become better armed against peer pressure and will be more prepared to identify any friends or family members who may have a substance-abuse problem.
When teaching about the negative health effects of drugs, give specific details and don't overgeneralize. Choose your words carefully. For instance, students know that not everyone who smokes will develop lung cancer, so it is more effective to say that smoking "may lead" to lung cancer. If you say that smoking "always leads" to lung cancer, your students will be less likely to believe the rest of what you tell them. Cite statistics among people who develop a health problem related to a substance, and then explain how the particular health problem occurs. Discussing the method in which a substance harms the body will generally be more striking than any numerical data will.
Underage use of alcohol or tobacco, as well as any use of illegal substances, can lead to serious ramifications. Explain the legal implications and social repercussions. Children who try drugs often don't understand the potential for imprisonment for possessing a narcotic, or the estrangement from family and friends that typically comes with substance abuse. Emphasize the addictions commonly associated with these substances, and remind students that these addictions keep the person continuously vulnerable to the consequences that accompany their substance abuse.
Teach students how to avoid situations that may involve drug use. One effective method is to incorporate role-playing scenarios that pressure a student into taking drugs. Using this approach, you can illustrate, among other things, that direct confrontation is not always necessarily the best solution. Many children have difficulty standing up to their peers, and in some cases, doing so may lead to violence. Role-playing can show students how to use alternative methods---even evasion and deceit, if necessary---to extract themselves from a pressure-filled situation. Encourage other healthy skills, such as journaling, adopting breathing exercises for relaxation, and seeking help when necessary. Students who know how to handle stress and can combat peer pressure are a lot less likely to try drugs.