Addiction Prevention Lesson Plans and Classroom Resources



Grades K-4

Grades 5-8

Grades 9-12

See the Spanish version of this page here. (Ver la versión en español de esta página aquí.)



Drug addiction is more than a health issue, and its lessons should extend beyond health classes. English and Language Arts classes can provide students with stories and personal narratives of the harmful effects of drugs. History and Social Studies lessons can teach the effects of drug addiction on government policies and international relations. Math classes can look at the statistics surrounding drug use and abuse in various communities, and science classes can study the health effects of drugs.


When students are educated on the “big picture” of drug use and abuse, they are better prepared to make responsible decisions on drug use in their own lives. With this life preparation in mind, the lesson plans below provide a cross-disciplinary approach to drug abuse prevention, broken down by grade level.




back to top

For students in the early grades, the anti-drug messages can be worked into teachings about social health. For example, young students may have a lesson on the necessity of rules, and the educator will list anti-drug laws as an example of necessary rules. Or, a science lesson on the consequences of risky behavior can mention drug use as an example of risky behavior. Even as students are learning social and behavioral lessons, anti-drug messages are incorporated into the teachings.



Whiskers Says No: Students listen to the story “Whiskers Says No to Drugs” and act in role playing situations in which they demonstrate how to “say no.”


Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts and Self-Kindness: Through the reading and discussion of Those Shoes, by Maribeth Boelts, students will learn the value of being kind to others, and to themselves. Drug abuse can be brought up as an example of how people are unkind to themselves.



Civic Duty – What Does It Take To Be A Good Citizen? : Students study the life of Abraham Lincoln and learn vocabulary words around citizenship. In class discussion, students can learn that “good citizens” must obey the laws of the land, including drug laws.



Fizz Fizz Boom Boom: Students watch as two stable substances are mixed together to create an unstable outcome. They learn about the causes of this chemical reaction and relate it to the effects of combining dangerous situations with risky actions.



Drugs & Future Goals: Students learn about the concept of “future goals” and map out their own plans and hopes for the future. Students then learn how drug abuse & addiction can negatively affect those goals.


What’s Your Vote?: Students practice democracy in the classroom, voting on whether they believe certain behaviors are safe or dangerous to engage in.


Character Trait – Respect: Student learn about respecting others and how to be respectful citizens in their communities. Students list examples of respectful and disrespectful behavior, opening up a potential discussion on how drug abuse can lead to disrespectful behaviors.



I Think I Can Make A Difference!: Students read the The Little Engine That Could and create a numbered classroom train of students, each sharing their own “I can” statements. Building self-esteem and community contribution prepares students for anti-drug lessons in later grades.


Using Math to Educate Young People About Alcohol: Students will learn how to properly read labels to tell whether or not a product contains alcohol. Students will also learn to calculate ‘alcohol by volume’ using units of liquid measurement.



Dodging Damaging Drugs: Students perform Internet research on the dangers of drugs, then participate in a role-playing scenario in which they are a hot Hollywood actor who’s developing an anti-drug commercial. Using the information they found during their research, students will create the script for the infomercial.


Just Say No: Students create short skits on ways to say “no” to drugs.



back to top

Once they reach the middle grades, students are learning strong anti-drug messages in their health classes and are ready for more direct teachings on the dangers of drugs. While it’s important to avoid overt “scare tactics,” many lesson plans on drug abuse contain mildly (age-appropriate) graphic or violent behavior, and it’s important to communicate the purpose of these lessons with parents.



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MY DEAD BROTHER Reading Guide: Students read Autobiography of My Dead Brother, a novel about violence and drug abuse by Walter Dean Myers. The guide provides discussion and additional author information for classroom use.


Just Examine It: Students develop anti-violence and anti-drug slogans and learn how advertising and the media use persuasive language to shape minds and opinions.


The Science Of Addiction With Poetry: Students study and use poetic language to describe various physical states and understand the imagery and sensations associated with drug use.


Creating A New World Writing Activity: Students use their creativity and writing skills to develop a world, any way they want it. Educators can tailor this lesson plan toward anti-drug teachings by asking students to imagine worlds without abusable substances.



Illegal Drugs in America – DEA Museum:Students take a virtual tour of the Drug Enforcement Agency Museum in Arlington, Virginia and learn about the history of illegal drugs in the U.S. This site also includes worksheets and information for educators who are able to take class field trips to this museum.



COUGH, COUGH… Yeah, I smoke: Students learn about the statistics surrounding tobacco use and the effects of tobacco on the lungs. Students will also study the advertising techniques tobacco companies use to manipulate consumers.


Reconstructors Online Game: This online video game teaches students about the risks of drug abuse via role play as scientists and historians. As students play the game, they solve medical mysteries involving drugs.


Catch It: Students scientifically demonstrate the decrease in reaction time caused by marijuana abuse with just ice water and a pencil.


“Drugonyms” Lesson Plan: Students break up into groups, each assigned with developing an acronym for a particular type of drug, based on its uses and side effects. Students then teach their classmates about their drug’s acronym and its harmful effects.



Clearing the Smoke About Cigarettes: Students study the causes and effects of cigarette addiction and develop anti-smoking campaigns for their peers. This lesson takes drug prevention teachings and incorporates studies of advertising and the media, providing students with a better understanding of the more subliminal factors that may influence addictions.


My Choice is Drug-Free: Students analyze the lyrics to various songs and discuss how popular songs may influence drug use and abuse.


Analyzing Crime Statistics: Students analyze data around violent crime statistics during the 20th Century and research the factors that affect violent crime, such as drug abuse.


Cycle of Addiction: Students learn the concept “cycle of addiction” and learn about the factors that may influence a drug user to take drugs again and again. Students study various scenarios and participate in a discussion to understand the environmental factors that may lead various young people to fall into a drug addiction cycle.



The Price of Cigarettes: Students tally the cost of cigarettes to get a better idea on the financial consequences of drug and cigarette addiction.


Violence in the News: Students use statistics to graph and analyze violence and drug abuse data from news reports.


Drugs + Your Life: Students contrast about the probability of committing crime for drug abusers and non-drug abusers and predict the likelihood of violence when given certain statistical criteria.



Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Death and the Heroin Trade: Students learn more about the dangers of opioid drugs and the illegal drug trade by studying the news around actor Philip Seymour Hoffman’s untimely death.




back to top

By high school, students have been thoroughly educated on the dangers of drugs, but these lessons should still be enforced in a cross-disciplinary approach. As students begin to study civic concepts and historical movements more in-depth, they will begin to learn the effects of drug abuse on entire cultures (such as China during the Opium Wars, or Mexico during the current Mexican War on Drugs). High school students are also at a level of maturity to handle more serious fiction and literature about the dangers of drug use and abuse.




Drug Awareness Projects: This drug prevention unit for high schoolers includes multiple projects and lesson plans on the dangers of drug use involving various subject areas and resources. Perfect for a semester-long study, students may choose from among the listed projects to perform in-depth research on drug use and abuse.



CRANK Reading Guide: Students read Crank by Ellen Hopkins, the story of a young woman who becomes addicted to crystal meth and complete classroom activities discussing the effects of this drug on the protagonist.


Drug Abuse Crossword & Brochure: Students complete a crossword puzzle whose clues are all drug abuse-related vocabulary. Students use the Internet and other resources to perform research and complete the assignment. The students the use the information learned for the crossword to create an anti-drug brochure.


Honest Analogies: Students learn about and create analogies by contrasting personal characteristics that prevent drug use and abuse with characteristics that promote drug use.


Kubla Khan by Coleridge: Students read and study the Romantic poem, “Kubla Khan” and discuss the effects of drug use on the work and how drugs affected Coleridge’s writing and his memory.


Popular Books on Drugs: This list of drug-centered books is an excellent resource for teachers looking to create classroom discussions on the dangers of drug use.



Falling In Step: The Anti-Drug Message of Stevie Ray Vaughan: Students learn about drug abuse in Western music history, studying musical artists whose lives were cut short by drug use and abuse. Through the post-drug-abuse music of Stevie Ray Vaughan, students learn about the struggles of drug addiction.


China and the New Imperialism: In this history unit, learn about the history of the Opium Wars and how those conflicts affect relations between China and the Western world today. Students will see how the influence of drugs, and enslavement by drugs, affected major international relations for centuries to come.


The Mexican Drug Wars, on Twitter: Using Social Media for Social Action: Students learn about the history and geography of the current Mexican War on Drugs. Students read additional materials on the use of social media sites to combat the effects of drug wars and present their learnings to classmates.



Tendon Damage from Steroids: Students learn about the downside of steroid use through an interactive science lesson on muscle tendons. Using rubber bands to illustrate muscle tendons, students will gain an understanding of the effects of steroid use.


Using Laboratory Chemicals To Imitate Illicit Drugs in a Forensic Chemistry Activity: In this chemistry lessons, students will use substances that can easily imitate illicit drugs for chemical experiments. Students will learn about the chemical makeup of various illicit drugs and how to identify unknown drug samples.


Teaching the Effects of Drugs on the Brain: This lesson unit provides resources for teaching students the science behind drug use and the way various chemicals negatively affect the brain.



The War Next Door – Drug Trafficking: Students will learn about the legal and social consequences of the drug trafficking situation between the U.S. and Mexico. Students will learn about the negative effect of trafficking on local populations and the ways law enforcement agencies are cracking down on drug lords.


Drug Dope Show: Students will create a talk show to research and discuss various drug types and the effects of drug use on family members and friends of the addict. Students will break up into small groups to research and develop their presentation and present their learnings to the class in a talk show format.


A Position Paper on the World Anti-Doping Agency: Students learn about Ben Johnson, an Olympic runner who was disqualified for drug abuse and write a position paper on whether or not the World Anti-Doping Agency is making headway in decreasing the use of performance-enhancing drugs.


Drug Testing in the Schools: Students watch a documentary about a supreme court case on 4th Amendment rights concerning a school district that required students submit to random drug tests. Students will learn about the case from every point-of-view and hold a class discussion on the 4th Amendment and the merits of random drug tests for students.


Introduction to Singapore’s mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking: Students learn about drug laws in another country by studying Singapore’s recent announcement that the death penalty would no longer be mandatory punishment for drug traffickers. Students will learn the historical context for this harsh law and learn about one man who faced death row for drug trafficking in Singapore.



Drugs and Alcohol Statistics: Students research state and national statistics on drug use and abuse and work together to graph the data. Students also consider the financial cost of alcohol and drug abuse.



Situational SeeSaw: Student develop three-minute improvised skits based on characteristics that promote versus prevent drug use and abuse.


Teaching Drug Prevention With Films: This site provides a list of popular feature films that can educate students about the negative consequences of drug use and abuse and provide fodder for a classroom discussion on drug use choices.


Public Speaking: Students prepare speeches to educate their peers on the risks of drug use & abuse. Using online and library resources to prepare their speeches, students will also gain understanding of the risks of drug abuse.