Students can learn about the prevention and impact of addiction or alcoholism (sometimes referred to as “chemical dependency” or “substance use disorder”) in their health, science, government or history classes. Consider these ideas for class projects, homework, extra credit or semester-long student-led projects:
- A project that will interest students, personalize the problem and send a strong message to 9th to 12th graders: Research celebrities who died from drug or alcohol use or abuse. Find out what substance killed them and how it killed them. Consider Jimmy Hendrix, Amy Winehouse, Curt Cobain, John Belushi, Heath Ledger, Whitney Houston, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Cory Monteith or Michael Jackson.
- This project could be included in foundational curriculum regarding use of resistance skills in decision-making: Research “positive youth development.” A big piece of the prevention puzzle involves changing the youth culture and offering ways for kids to feel powerful, capable and excited about life without drugs or alcohol.” Check out groups like NaturalHigh and Friday Night Live to see what they are doing to support positive youth development in schools and communities. What are some ways that your school or community could offer positive youth development opportunities?
- An evidence-based approach that lets students design their own prevention programs: Research the basic principles of prevention here and then design your own prevention program, integrating as many prevention principles as possible.
- A good project for a Civics or Government class: What is a social host ordinance, and how does a community pass a social host ordinance? Is there a social host ordinance somewhere in your region? Who does it impact – and how? Who was involved in getting it passed?
- Engaging and relevant homework assignment: Locate the drug and alcohol use and abuse statistics for your region. Put a face on the statistics by researching the story of a local teen who died from drug or alcohol use or abuse including overdose, car accident or suicide.
- An ambitious project for advanced students or government classes: Coalition work is very time-consuming, and complex prevention work that takes place on many fronts: schools, businesses, law enforcement, policy work, etc. Check out CADCA.org to see if there is a CADCA coalition in your area. If not, research the successes of other CADCA coalitions in the nation and find one that would be a good “fit” for your area. Explain why you selected that coalition.
- A project that lends itself to all kinds of learners: Listen to a classroom presentation made by a young person in recovery from chemical dependency. Note the key “bad choices” that were made along the way. Rewrite his or her story or create a visual storyboard or have a classroom discussion about making different, positive choices instead of bad choices at those critical points in time. For example, instead of choosing to hang out with friends smoking pot, he or she went to the gym with friends. What impact would that have on the story’s ending?
- A good project to help students explore advocacy for better community health: What are other national organizations doing about chemical dependency? Select one of these organizations and develop a poster or PowerPoint graphic that depicts their audience, their mission, their tools, and their messages. org and https://www.facingaddiction.org/ and http://www.transformingyouthrecovery.org/ and http://youngpeopleinrecovery.org/
- A good fit for Government or World History classes: What kind of work is going on in the international world of prevention? Which countries are active in prevention work, and which countries are not? Find a country that has programs you consider innovative or unusual. http://preventionhub.org/en/who-is-who
- A potentially big project designed to change school culture: Check out resources from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) including their National Drug Facts Week in January. The NIDA website offers lots of resources and ideas about ways to engage students in prevention activities. Develop a plan to use some of those resources at your school. http://teens.drugabuse.gov/national-drug-facts-week
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