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topic three – substance abuse and addiction

teacher's notes - general approach

Everyone is aware of the many young people today whose lives are dominated by the abuse of alcohol, cigarettes, drugs and/or solvents. Such habits often lead to a lack of self-respect.

The aim of this topic is to help pupils discover what inner needs people are seeking to satisfy by smoking, taking drugs or drinking alcohol, and how such needs might be better met in other ways. For example, some people's need for a sense of belonging will cause them to identify strongly with a gang or group, and the collective behaviour of such a group may well profoundly affect the direction which such people's lives take. This is a good opportunity for pupils to consider whether the direction their lives are taking now is the way they want to continue to go and, if not, to consider changing that direction.

This topic will help the class to question whether substance abuse can answer any needs in the long term. The topic does not deal with substances in detail, but if you wish to do so, much material is available from the organisations which deal with addiction.

On worksheet 7 pages 14 and 15 there is a choice of activities. Resource sheets 1 & 2 on pages 18 and 19 may also be needed.

Discuss and decide with the class which activities will help them best understand the effects of substance abuse and possible alternatives to such behaviour. Groups could choose different activities and then pool their findings.

activity one
If you can invite a recovering addict/alcoholic to talk about his/her experiences to the class, pupils should prepare questions before the visit. The other activities are explained fully on the worksheet 7 (page 14) Does it really help? Activities two and three will need the stories on resource sheets 1 & 2 on pages 18 and 19 My name is John. I am an alcoholic and An Indian experience or similar ones of your own.

activity five
A smoking quiz on page 16 (worksheet 8) and the work on peer pressure on page 17 (worksheet 9) Belonging.

Answers to quiz: 1 yellow 2 cancer 3 nicotine 4 tar 5 oxygen 6 smell 7 taste 8 expensive 9 unborn 10 smoke 11 tobacco 12 cough

When the activities chosen are completed, it is important for the class to assess what they have learnt, in particular how these things affect their self-respect. There is a space on the worksheet for them to write their conclusions.

You might find useful additional or follow-up material in previous modules, e.g. R1 M3 lesson four on Where do I belong? or R1 M3 lesson five on Goals and aims. Also R2 M2 lesson 6 Walk Tall may be applicable.


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