In these Substance Abuse Prevention Prompts, students will think about the prevalence and availability of drugs and alcohol, as well as the mental and physical effects that substance abuse can have on a person. As they imagine ways to say no and figure out how they would help a friend who was having trouble with substance abuse, students will gain a deeper understanding of the different types of pressure they face and the various reasons that some people might turn to mood-altering substances in the first place.
This October, participate in National Substance Abuse Prevention Month by teaching your students about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Substance abuse is on the rise, with kids and teens all across the country usually able to get easy access to drugs and other illicit substances from their friends.
Turning down a drink at a party or refusing marijuana and cigarettes can be tough for teens who desperately want to fit in with their peers. That’s why it’s up to parents and teachers to educate students early on about the dangers of these harmful substances and the risk of addiction.
Getting through the teenage years without giving in to the peer pressure around drugs and alcohol can be tough. However, when students are well informed about the risks of substance abuse, they’ll be much better prepared to handle situations where they are offered drugs or where everyone else is participating in smoking or drinking. Use these journal prompts to get students thinking about their own beliefs on substance abuse and the best ways to protect themselves from peer pressure.
Substance Abuse Prevention Prompts: 32 Writing Ideas for Kids
- Why do you think people do drugs and drink alcohol?
- Does the way that drugs and alcohol are shown in TV and movies ever make you want to try them? Why or why not?
- What would you do if you saw a friend taking drugs or drinking?
- Have you ever been offered drugs or alcohol? How did you handle the situation?
- Is it possible to control your usage of drugs and alcohol so that you don’t get addicted? Why or why not?
- What can you do during National Substance Abuse Prevention Month to discourage other people from trying drugs and alcohol?
- What types of resources are available to students your age who are suffering with substance abuse problems? Do you feel like these resources would be easy for you to connect with if you needed them?
- If you’re turning down a drink or drugs at a party, should you just say no? Or should you tell people why you don’t want to try it? Why?
- Are drugs and alcohol considered to be cool at our school? Why or why not?
- Why is it okay for adults to drink but not kids? What should the legal drinking age be?
- Have you ever seen someone who was affected by drug or alcohol abuse? How did that person act?
- Is there ever a situation in which it is safe to try drugs or alcohol?
- What would you do if you saw someone selling drugs at your school?
- What do you think it feels like to take drugs? Do you think this is why other people try them?
- Are some groups of people more likely to do drugs than others? Why or why not?
- Sometimes teens start doing drugs because they are bored. What are some alternative hobbies you could take up to have fun?
- Have your parents ever talked to you about drugs and alcohol? What did they say?
- Write about three potential scenarios when someone your age might be offered drugs—and then come up with solutions to handle each one.
- What are some of the greatest dangers of drug and alcohol abuse?
- Why do students feel pressured to try drugs and to drink?
- Do you know anyone who sells drugs or alcohol to students at our school? How many people do you think he or she sells to?
- Why do people do things that they know will hurt them?
- Are teens more likely to start doing drugs or to start drinking? Why?
- If someone offered you drugs or alcohol and you didn’t want to try it, how would you say no?
- What would you do if a person offering you drugs or alcohol wouldn’t take no for an answer?
- How old were you when you first learned about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse? How did this shape your perspective on illicit substances?
- Are some substances more dangerous than others? Why or why not?
- What are some of the risks associated with prescription drugs? Why is it so important to be careful with these drugs as well?
- Why do music, movies, and television shows make drugs and alcohol look glamorous?
- Have you ever felt pressured to try drugs or alcohol because you saw someone who you looked up to doing it? How did you handle the situation?
- How do drugs change people? Write about both the emotional and physical effects.
- List five ways that you could help a friend who was using drugs or alcohol.
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More About Substance Abuse Prevention
Substance Abuse Prevention: Teacher & Student Resources and A Teacher Resource with 3 Lessons for Students
You might not think your students are facing pressure yet to try drugs and alcohol, but more and more kids and teens are being exposed to illicit substances each year. Research shows that drug use is most likely to begin during the teenage years—and that people are much more likely to suffer from life-long addictions when their substance abuse starts at an early age.
According to a 2012 survey from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, 90 percent of US high school students say that they know classmates who use tobacco, alcohol, or illicit drugs during the school day. Additionally, the students surveyed estimated that roughly 17 percent of all US high school students take part in drug or alcohol use during school hours.
Drug and alcohol education programs often do a great job of portraying the dangers of strangers and gangs, but they may overemphasize the potential of getting drugs from these groups. For many kids, drug dealers aren’t sketchy, hardened criminals that they have to meet in a back alley somewhere—dealers are their friends. The Columbia University study also found that 44 percent of high school students say that they know at least one student who sells drugs. Knowing someone who has access to drugs can make it much harder for students to avoid the pressures to start using.
Substance Abuse Prevention Lesson Ideas for Teachers
To help your students understand the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse, it’s important to highlight these three lessons:
1. It’s Okay to Say No—
Saying no to a friend who wants you to “loosen up” or “have fun” with drugs is much harder than saying no to a stranger who’s trying to sell for a profit. Adolescence is fraught with self-esteem issues as students try to figure out where they fit in and seek approval from their peers. Even when students don’t want to try drugs or alcohol, it might be tough to say no and risk being outcast from the group.
2. It’s Not Always a “Yes” or “No” Question—
As you teach your students that it’s okay to say no to an offer of drugs or alcohol, remind them that peer pressure isn’t always persistent or adamant. Sometimes, peer pressure is an internal force that comes from seeing that everyone else is doing it and wanting to fit in. An emphasis on “Just say no” education can be detrimental to students because it places the blame solely on the person offering the drugs—which puts the student in a role of confident heroism when he or she shuts the pressuring bully down. In reality, many kids start doing drugs without anyone ever formally offering the substances to them or asking if they’d like to try. They instead seek out the drugs because of the internal pressure they’ve placed upon themselves.
3. One Time Can Kill You—
Many students who give in to peer pressure and try drugs or alcohol do so thinking that one time won’t hurt them. Unfortunately, doing some drugs just once—or drinking too much alcohol in one sitting—can result in death or long-term damage to the student’s mind or body. Emphasize how harmful illegal substances can be by explaining the effects and dangers of various drugs. It’s essential for students to understand that one wrong decision could be one wrong decision too many.
October is National Substance Abuse Prevention Month and it’s the perfect time to educate your students on the dangers and risks associated with illegal drug and alcohol abuse.