How to Teach Students About Drug Abuse

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Drug addiction can be a difficult thing to teach to students. Depending on grade level, they may not seem mature enough to handle it, or may not know enough to even ask questions. Any lesson plan, then, must take into account both the age and maturity of the audience, and any previous exposure to drug awareness programming.

There are ways to make the classroom more conducive to a constructive discussion of the issues surrounding drug use. As a teacher, when you know how to teach students about drug abuse, you are prepared to help them make good choices about their bodies and their futures.

Some of the ways you can encourage mature discussion are:

  • Show your students that you are open to being approached with questions, and encourage your students to share their feelings. It is important that students feel comfortable talking to you.
  • Each student should be given a chance to talk. It may be necessary to draw out questions from some of the shy ones. They have questions, but may not initially be willing to share them in front of the group.
  • Don't just show interest in what your students are saying, be interested. Actively listen to them (see below) and ask questions that show you are trying to understand.
  • Wait until a question has been fully formed before giving a response. Give your students time to think through their concerns.
  • Invite future conversation and discussion.

The Importance of Listening

Students these days are exposed to the raw facts of drug addiction from many angles: parents, TV, the Internet. Many of them know plenty about drugs and their potential for abuse. Your job as an educator, then, becomes to listen effectively and present yourself as a trustworthy person to talk to and a source of support. By employing the following active listening techniques, you'll show your students that they can talk to you with their problems.

  • Don't judge. Students must be allowed to talk without fear of what you're going to say. Some students need to frame out their questions first, without worrying about how you will react to them.
  • Notice non-verbal as well as verbal cues. Listen to the words, certainly, but also pay attention for signs of anger, fear, or guilt that may help you understand the context of the student's question.
  • Show that you are paying attention by looking the student in the eye, nodding along, making sure your facial expressions doubt convey boredom. If students are going to open up to you, they need to see your own non-verbal cues as inviting and accepting.
  • Don't interrupt. It's rude to do it to adults and it's rude to do it to children. Speaking about such a sensitive topic as drug addiction may take a student longer than other subjects. Be patient.
  • Don't be too eager to give advice. Drug use requires thoughtful introspection, and that cannot be accomplished be offering a two or three sentence response. show respect by only giving advice if first asked to do so by the student and follow up by suggesting a more thorough examination of the student's concerns later.

It can be hard to talk about drug addiction, and teachers have to walk a fine line. It is your job to model and encourage good behavior, but you also have to show students that you are available to talk to about less-than-appropriate behaviors they may be engaging in. Knowing how to establish a respectful atmosphere for discussion and how to teach students about drug abuse, you are helping them make good decisions about their lives.

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