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Deadly HighsDeadly-Highs

  • Subject:
  • |
  • Grade(s): 6-8
  • |
  • Duration: Five class periods

Lesson Plan Sections


Students will be able to:
1. Describe the effects of drugs on the human body, both short-and long-term consequences
2. Create personal approaches to substance abuse control and prevention
3. Demonstrate effective practices in working within groups
4. Demonstrate general skills of the writing process
5. Practice skills in speaking and listening as tools for learning


For this lesson, you will need:
Large bulletin board paper
Markers, colored pencils, paint
Poster board
Overhead, VHS camera, tape, and TV (optional equipment)
Group Evaluation Form handout
Deadly Highs, The Hard Facts handout


1. This lesson plan offers a unique approach to learning about substance abuse as it focuses on student-directed activities. The activities allow students to explore the dangers of substance abuse and get directly involved in the prevention process. Prevention occurs best drug-by-drug, because knowledge of the adverse consequences of one drug will not necessarily generalize to the use of other drugs. Students' beliefs and attitudes are specific to each drug. The lesson also provides an opportunity to introduce differentiated learning to meet the needs of individual learners (see note under "Making the Band" activity.)
To provide an introduction to the lesson, click on play to watch the overview of Deadly Highs: PLAY(download the free realplayer)
2. What are the different types of drugs being used by young people today? Write the names of these drugs on the board and discuss as a class (use the vocabulary list as a reference.)
(Make sure that the types of drugs on the board include the following - Cocaine, Marijuana, Methamphetamine, Hallucinogens, Heroin and Ecstasy. "Street names" for these drugs might come up but make sure they are classified appropriately - example: LSD is a Hallucinogen, Crack is a form of Cocaine.)
3. Make a list of the general questions that arise from the class discussion. The following list provides an example of key questions:
What does this drug look like?
What does it do to you (your mind/body)?
Why do people use drugs?
Who uses drugs?
Are there other names for this drug?
Where do people get drugs?
What do young people generally think of others who do drugs?
What are the laws against young people using these drugs?
Where can you go for help when using drugs?
Have students write down these questions and any others like these. Come up with at least 8 to 10 questions. The questions need to be ones most commonly asked by young people and focused on what they want to know. The students will use these questions in the next activity within the lesson.
4. The attached vocabulary list can be distributed to the students as a handout, given as homework, or students can work in groups (see next section) to define vocabulary together.
5. Making the "Band"(can be done over 3-4 lesson periods)
Divide the class into at least 6 groups (one group for each type of drug listed on the board). Assign students to the groups to ensure each group is well balanced with students who are writers, artists, idea makers, etc. These groups should emulate a mixture of talents as well as personalities.
Differentiated Learning:
This is a great assignment to introduce differentiated instruction. Not all students learn the same way. Through this assignment, you offer students a chance to demonstrate their learning through a preferred modality—verbal, artistic, graphic, visual, etc. Offering a choice to the lesson design gives students the opportunity to validate their opinions and will promote self-efficiency.
6. Assign a different "drug" to each group.
7. The groups are now going to become their own "band" (rock, rap, country, jazz —what ever they decide as a group). Working together, they will write a song about the drug assigned to them.This is an anti-drug song. Encourage students to make their song rhyme and flow. They can use music that they are familiar with, if needed, or create their own tune. The lyrics must be original from the group.
8. Students will need to research the effects of their assigned drug and include answers to the questions originally asked in the first section. Encourage them to use the vocabulary list andDeadly Highs, The Hard Facts handoutas starting points.
9. Along with writing a song, each group needs to come up with a band name and album or CD cover. These also need to reflect ananti-drugmessage.
The album or CD cover can be designed to reflect the actual size of a CD or album cover (using poster board) or use larger poster board size. This is where their imaginations can go wild. Encourage the students to be creative.
10. Students should also come up with at least one sponsor for their album. They will need to research and gather information from specific anti-drug groups (examples: The Office of National Drug Control Policy, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc.) This research can be done through visits to the school library, public library or web site information.
11. The Performance(2-3 lesson periods)
Once each group has written their song, designed their album and come up with their name and sponsors, they will need to put on a "concert" for the class. Again they have a choice and can use their imagination. They can perform the song as a group, or if available, videotape the song (like a music video) to play for the class.
12. As each group has a chance to perform, the other students should evaluate the bands using theGroup Evaluation Form. Students should complete the form for each group/band performance and be prepared to offer verbal feedback to the performing group after the presentation. Make sure the students include praise along with positive comments about what they learned from the songs.
13. The last question on the sheet asks students to write down the "most positive" thing they learned from the song they heard. As a closing class discussion, have students share their answers to the last evaluation question. Write their comments on the board, overhead or large bulletin paper. Students will feel knowledgeable and productive as they freely share learned information with other students.

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Older students:
Taking a look at specific drugs, students can conduct a research analysis on the history, laws, statistics and reported facts about the drugs.
High school age students can be brought into middle school classes as "Peer Educators". These students can talk to younger students about the pressure of drugs in school and how to say "no" to your friends when confronted with drugs. They can use their songs as part of their presentations.
Younger students:
Instead of having the students focus on a particular drug, each group can focus on a general anti-drug song. The activity can be cut back to having the students create a theme, song title, and a CD cover. Students should be encouraged to focus on the concept of temptation, what is addiction, and how they can resist drugs.

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Discussion Questions

1. What are your options if someone offered you drugs at school?
2. What can you do when it is hard to say "no" when drugs are offered over and over?
3. Do drugs scare you? If so, how?
4. What could you do if you see someone using drugs at school?
5. Is it "normal" to just try drugs? How would you define the word temptation?
6. What could you do if you think a friend is on drugs (high) while at school?
7. How "easy" do you think it is to get drugs at school?

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Students may be evaluated by using following three-point rubric:
  • Three points: student has followed all given instructions with full participation in group and class discussions. They have completed their song, album/CD cover and given presentation to the class. Their Group Evaluation Forms are well thought out and complete.
  • Two points: student has had some participation in group activities of writing song, album cover and class presentation. Evaluation Forms have been completed.
  • One point: student has completed portions of the assignment with limited class involvement.
Note: Each individual section can also be evaluated by giving grades or on a point system per given section.

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Making the Decision
Have students focus on specific drug-related incidence scenarios. Examples of these might include friends trying drugs, selling drugs at school or being caught with drugs at school. What do these situations look like and how might they play out? Students can write a story about the scenario, provide solutions, and role-play situations in groups.

Zero-Tolerance at Our School
Students can develop an "anti-drug campaign" for their school (similar to red-ribbon week in many schools.) Students need to gather and provide information for their peers about the use of drugs and where to go for help. Students can use their anti-drug songs as part of the campaign.

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Suggested Readings

Complete Student Assistance Program Handbook: Techniques & Materials for Alcohol/Drug Prevention and Intervention in Grades 7-12
Barbara Sqraque Newsam, September 1992
This is a comprehensive guide to the implementation of student assistance programming for grades 7-12. It touches on techniques for working effectively with students, teachers, parents, administrators and the community.

Intervention: How to Help Someone Who Doesn't Want Help: A Step-By-Step Guide For Families of Chemically Dependent Persons
Vernon E. Johnson, April 1989
The book describes interventions on how to help those with alcohol or other drug problems. These interventions are done by getting together and presenting reality in a receivable way to the dependent person.

Drug and Alcohol Abuse: The Authoritative Guide for Parents, Teachers, and Counselors (The Language of Science)
H. Thomas, Jr. Milhorn, April 1994
This book is a guide to discovery, assistance and recovery for youth drug and alcohol abusers. It examines the reasons why kids use drugs and profiles drug abusers. The book also looks at the roles of parents, teachers and counselors with youth using drugs.

Drugs, Alcohol, and Your Children: What Every Parent Needs to Know
Judith S. Seixas, Geraldine Youcha, September 1999
Looked at as a hands-on resource guide for parents, this book confronts the threat of drug and alcohol use among our children. It lists the latest research, statistics and trends about all kinds of drugs—including tobacco.

Concepts of Chemical Dependency
Harold E. Doweiko, July 1998
This book gives detailed coverage of the most commonly abused chemicals and their effects. It also includes methods of assessment, intervention, and treatment.

Go Ask Alice
Anonymous, James Jennings, May 1994 (reissue edition)
This book has made a profound impact on millions of readers for more than 25 years. It tells about a lonely, awkward teen who experiences both optimism and despair. She is introduced to LSD and her frightening journey begins from there.

Jay's Journal
Dr Sparks Beatrice, October 1996
This is a true story about a young boy who is going through some real life problems. The peer pressures of sex, drugs, and violence are overwhelming and how to handle all the pressures leads him into great depression. Jay's journal becomes his best friend.

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Health Adventures—Deadly Highs
Just saying no is sometimes not enough. You are curious, it's normal to be tempted, but there are more drugs and dangerous substances available today. Deadly Highs helps you discover what will really happen if you decide to experiment with these drugs and play in a game of deadly highs.

National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency Inc.
The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence provides education, information, help and hope in the fight against the chronic, often fatal disease of alcoholism and other drug addictions. Founded in 1944, NCADD is a voluntary health organization with a nationwide network of affiliates.

National Institute on Drug Abuse
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) supports over 85 percent of the world's research on the health aspects of drug abuse and addiction. NIDA's overall goal is to ensure that science, not ideology or anecdote, forms the foundation for all of our Nation's drug abuse reduction efforts.

Hazelden is a non-profit organization providing high quality, affordable rehabilitation, education, prevention, and professional services and publications in chemical dependency and related disorders.

American Academy of Pediatrics
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and its member's pediatricians dedicate their efforts and resources to the health, safety and well being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. The AAP has approximately 55,000 members in the United States, Canada and Latin America. Members include pediatricians, pediatric medical sub specialist and pediatric surgical specialists.

Talk With Your Kids
Talking With Kids About Tough Issues is a national initiative by Children Now and the Kaiser Family Foundation to encourage parents to talk with their children earlier and more often about tough issues like sex, HIV/AIDS, violence, alcohol, and drug abuse.

Do It Now Foundation
The Do It Now Foundation web site provides five main content areas. Their titles include Publications, Fun & Games, Flashbacks, Archives and their online Catalog. The link is youth focused with straightforward information about drugs—"America's Drug Information Connection."

The Truth About Tobacco
A dynamic video featuring Patrick Reynolds, son of tobacco company founder R.J. Reynolds. An anti-smoking advocated, Reynolds uses video clips, photos and TV spots to demonstrate the impact smoking has on our health and society.

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Click on any of the vocabulary words below to hear them pronounced and used in a sentence.

speaker    cocaine
Definition: drug used as a narcotic or anesthetic
Context: Cocaine is a white powder and is often called coke, C, snow, blow and toot. Cocaine belongs in a class of drugs known as stimulants. It gives the temporary feeling of endless energy and then can leave the user feeling low, depressed and wanting more.

speaker    crack
Definition: form of cocaine
Context: A chemically altered form of cocaine. It is just as addictive as cocaine and offers the same illusions of highs and lows.

speaker    ecstasy
Definition: a synthetic, psychoactive drug
Context: Ecstasy, also called MDMA or Adam, is most available in tablet form. It is also available as a powder. Ecstasy can cause a tightening in the jaw, increased heart rate, nausea, depression and dehydration. Since it is manufactured, it is not known what other dangerous drugs it might be "cut" or mixed with. Ecstasy is most often used by young people at clubs, raves (all night dance parties) and rock concerts.

speaker    Hallucinogenic Drugs
Definition: a substance that distorts ones perception of reality
Context: LSD (also known as "acid") is a major drug classified under hallucinogens. It can come in tablet, capsule or liquid form. It can be added to colorful, absorbent paper that is not readily identifiable as a drug. The effects of LSD are unpredictable and depend on the user. The changes can often be frightening and cause panic.

speaker    heroin
Definition: a narcotic
Context: Heroin is an illegal drug that is highly addictive. Using heroin can lead to physical and psychological problems such as nausea, panic and shallow breathing. Attempts to stop using the drug can lead to significantly painful withdrawal symptoms.

speaker    methamphetamine
Definition: drug used as a stimulant
Context: Methamphetamine is also known as meth, "speed", "ice" and "crank". The drug gives a sense of increased energy and euphoria but increases nervousness, irritability and paranoia. Periods of intense use (binges) can be followed by intense periods of depression.

speaker    marijuana
Definition: narcotic from the hemp plant
Context: Marijuana is the most widely used illicit drug being used in the United States today. It can cause impaired short-term memory and alter sense of time and the ability to perform tasks requiring concentration and coordination.

speaker    stimulants
Definition: to make active; class of drug that increases certain functions/activities
Context: Stimulants are used to counteract the "down" feeling of tranquilizing drugs. They increase alertness and relieve fatigue. Cocaine is described as a stimulant. Personal reactions are unknown due to the user type and drug type.

speaker    addictive
Definition: habitual psychological and physiological dependence on a substance or practice, which is sometimes beyond voluntary control
Context: When someone is addicted they cannot stop the craving for the drug or activity. Many drugs are addictive and the withdrawal can be very painful.

speaker    withdrawl
Definition: mental and physical problems that affect someone who is addicted and tries to stop using a drug
Context: The effects of withdrawal from drugs is a painful process sometimes having long term or permanent side effects.

speaker    resistance
Definition: to withstand or to stand back; an inner force or drive that is exerted in opposition to another forced or drive
Context: It is hard to decline or resist an activity when friends and others urge you to join in.

speaker    temptation
Definition: to be introduced or attracted to something you should avoid
Context: When something sounds like it will be fun, exciting, or enjoyable it is difficult not to want to give it a try even though we know the consequences could be harmful or deadly.

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This lesson plan may be used to address the academic standards listed below. These standards are drawn from Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education: 2nd Edition and have been provided courtesy of theMid-continent Research for Education and Learningin Aurora, Colorado.
Grade level: 6-8
Subject area: Health
Understands aspects of substance use and abuse
Knows the factors involved in the development of a drug dependency and the early, observable signs and symptoms (e.g., tolerance level, drug-seeking behavior, loss of control, denial)
Knows the short- and long-term consequences of use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs (more specifically for this lesson), (e.g., physical consequences, psychological consequences, and social consequences)

Grade level: 6-8
Subject area: Language Arts
Demonstrates competence in the general skills and strategies of the writing process
Prewriting: Uses a variety of prewriting strategies (e.g., makes outlines, uses published pieces as writing models, constructs critical standards, brainstorms, builds background knowledge)
Editing and publishing: Uses a variety of strategies to edit and publish written work
Evaluates own and other's writing (e.g., applies criteria generated by self and others, uses self-assessment to set and achieve goals as a writer, participates in peer response groups)

Grade level: 6-8
Subject area: Language Arts
Demonstrates competence in speaking and listening as tools for learning
Plays a variety of roles in group discussions (e.g., active listener, discussion leader, facilitator)
Listens in order to understand a speaker's topic, purpose, and perspective

Grade level: 6-8
Subject area: Life Skills
Contributes to the overall effort of a group
Helps establish group goals
Contributes to the development of a supportive climate in groups

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CWK Network
Connecting with Kids provides television programming and products focused on the health, education, and well-being of children and young adults. To contact CWK Network, write to Lee Scharback at

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