Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Substance Use and Its Effect on Behavior

James Buchannon


This is a lesson to cause students to think about substance use and afford them an opportunity to use their resistence skills for avoiding potentially harmful situations.


The student knows communication strategies for avoiding potentially harmful situations (eg., refusal skills and resistance to peer pressure).


-Pencil and paper to be used by the class recorder (optional)
-Clipboard (optional)
-Chalk board or dry eraser board (optional)
-Chalk or dry eraser marker (optional)
-Handout for each student (see associated file)
-Substance Abuse Rubric (see associated file)


1. Get permission from administration if needed before discussing the topic.
2. Make copies of the student handout.
3. Make copies of the rubric .
4. Maintain confidentiality (Inform students that what they say in the classroom stays in the classroom).


1. Gain attention by asking students if they've ever been asked participate in a harmful situation. Situations may include smoking, drinking alcoholic beverages, etc. Allow for a few minutes of discussion of types. Chart student responses for later.

2. Next, ask students to think about how they said no to the harmful situation. They may want to share some ways of saying no.

3. Introduce the topic of the class and share the rubric with the students. Tell them they will need to participate in the class discussion and to stay focused on the speaker and the topic being discussed as it being assessed by the rubric. Remind the student to stand up when speaking so that they can be heard by everyone in class. Tell the students they must also complete the handout they will be given.

4. Now, refer back to the chart started at the beginning of class and re-start the discussion by asking to see the hands of any students that know someone that has been in a harmful situation. It could be that they use drugs. (It may be helpful for the communication strategies later to list some of the common types of legal and illegal drugs: Coffee, tea, and cigarettes, marijuana (cannabis), heroin, beer, whiskey, cocaine, etc.) NOTE: It isnít necessary to identify an illegal drug user. The intention of the discussion is to illustrate how an individualís behavior is affected by the use of drugs if they weren't able to use communication skills to say no.

5. Call on one of the raised hands and begin the discussion. It may be helpful to use one of the situations charted as a tool to start a class discussion. Call on students as their hands are raised to solicit feedback related to the first question. Ask students to think about different ways they could have resisted the harmful situation. There may be some students who have not been able to resist a harmful situation. Ask them to describe the behavior of the person who couldn't say no to the harmful situation. For example, someone who began using drugs. Can they contrast the before and after behavior of the individual described by the student. Example: What differences have you noticed in the way this person behaves now (after using drugs) and the way that person behaved prior to using drugs? Listed below are some common words or phrases that could be used to describe that behavior.

Cool, Not Cool, Argues, Curses, Easily Angered, Lazy, Passive, Wasted, Lies, Dishonest, Steals, Skips School, Zoned Out, Cheats, Puts on a front

6. Have a class recorder chart the behaviors stated by the students to describe the behavior differences of the drug user. Keep them for future reference and review. After students called on give input and other students provide feedback, ask the students if they have a better understanding of how behavior is influenced by drugs.

8. Ask students to now discuss communciation strategies they could use to avoid any of the harmful situations. It could be refusal skills (ask them to discuss the -cool- ways to say no). It could also be how to resist peer pressure. It may be helpful to chart these out or have students write them down.

9. Bring closure to the discussion by asking students to discuss the connection between using communication strategies to avoid harmful situations and the behaviors of people who use drugs. (ie- by not being able to use refusal skills to say no to her friends encouraging her to smoke dope, Jane went from a friendly, outgoing and B-average student to a withdrawn, unfriendly, failing student.)

10. Have students respond to the handout.

11. Students should be able to relate to this training in the future when they see people using drugs or have thoughts of using drugs themselves.


HE.B.3.3.5, Effective Communicators and Ethical and Responsible Workers will be formatively assessed during discussion using the attached rubric. Observe for positive feedback from students and the amount of respect demonstrated toward the speaker. Use the rubric to assess the studentís involvement and validity of the input (s)he offers.

Information Managers, will be formatively assessed using the handout. Check information for accurateness as was discussed with students. Give corrective and affirmative feedback.
HEB336 will be formatively assessed using the handout as well, specifically the last two items on the handout. Assess for correctness according to the discussion.

All lists and recorded information will be maintained for future use and review by students to provide continuous feedback.


1. This lesson could be modified and used specifically with family members of drug users. It could also be used as a first-step program toward changing the behavior of drug users.

2. Students could write skits based on a harmful situation that they encountered and how they used a communication strategy for getting out of the harmful situation.

Attached Files

The attached document is a rubric and handout.     File Extension: pdf

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