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Educating Students about Drug Use and Mental Health: Catholic - Grades 9 and 10: Introduction to Drug Use and Abuse

Introduction to Grade 9 Health and Physical Education, Healthy Active Living, Catholic Profile, Unit 2, Substance Use and Abuse, Activities 1 to 5

This resource is a "supplement" to the Healthy Active Living Education, Catholic Course Profile. It contains Teaching/Learning Strategies from the Catholic Course Profile, Unit 2, Activities 1 to 5.

Introduction to Grade 10 Health and Physical Education Healthy Active Living, Catholic Profile Unit 4 Healthy Lifestyle Choices: Growth and Sexuality, Substance Use and Abuse, Activities 1 to 2

This resource is a "supplement" to the Healthy Active Living Education, Catholic Course Profile. It contains Teaching/Learning Strategies from the Catholic Course Profile, Unit 4, Activities 1 to 2.

These strategies are reproduced with permission and acknowledgment to the work of the Catholic Curriculum Cooperative Writing Partnership - Healthy Active Living Education. (Bold text between orange lines is an excerpt from the course profile are included here.) This material is used with permission of the Institute for Catholic Education. Its use does not imply sponsorship or approval of the other contents of this publication by the Institute for Catholic Education.

As well, parts of the following background information, lessons, activities and appendices are excerpted or adapted with permission from (Grade 9) Ontario Health and Physical Education Curriculum Support: Kindergarten to Grade 10, Ontario Physical and Health Education Association, (OPHEA) Toronto, 2000.

Please note that we have included "Activities and Teaching/Learning Strategies" that deal only and specifically with Substance Use and Abuse. There are other "Activities and Teaching/Learning Strategies" that integrate Substance Use and Abuse with other healthy lifestyle choices. Please refer to the "Healthy Active Living Education, Catholic Course Profile" for all "Activities and Teaching/ Learning Strategies". These excerpts are bold and between orange lines.

In the following sections you will find additional and/or alternative lesson plans for each of the Teaching/Learning Strategies related to substance use and abuse. Each lesson plan provides background information, student worksheets, teacher answer sheets, and notes to teachers. Also included are "Hot Tips for Teachers": tips on gender differences, tips for arranging a guest speaker, tips and facts for teachers and a rubric for student assessment.

Students may have been exposed to information and decision-making about substance use and abuse prior to this grade. Following are the overall grade expectations from the Health and Physical Education, The Ontario Curriculum, Ontario Ministry of Education for Grades 1 to 8:

Grade 1: Recognize commonly used medicines and household products.


Grade 2: Describe the effects of appropriate and inappropriate uses of medicine on the body.

Grade 3: Describe what a drug is, listing several examples (nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol) and describe the effects of these substances on the body.

Grade 4: Identify the influences (e.g., the media, peers, family members) affecting the use of tobacco, as well as the effects, legalities of and healthy alternatives to, tobacco use.

Grade 5: Identify the influences (e.g., media, peers, family members) affecting alcohol use, as well as the effects, legalities of and healthy alternatives to, alcohol use.

Grade 6: Identify the influences (e.g., media, peers, family members) affecting the use of cannabis and other drugs, as well as the effects, legalities of and healthy alternatives to, cannabis and other drugs.

Grade 7: Apply living skills to deal with peer pressure related to substance use and abuse.

Grade 8: Identify local support groups and community organizations that provide information or services related to health and well-being.

The following activities are designed to address "the three Cs" of drug education:

  • Comprehension of the issues involved
  • Commitment to make behavioural changes, if required
  • Capacity to make such behavioural changes.

These activities are intended to serve as building blocks providing students with relevant knowledge applicable to everyday situations. The activities will also contribute to personal choices students may eventually make about their own use of substances.

For added relevance and impact, relate discussions and activities to your own school or community whenever appropriate. It is critical that teachers keep in mind the need for sensitivity to students' individual or family experiences with alcohol and other drugs as well as their own values, beliefs and use patterns.

Hot Tips for School-Based Drug Education

Try to implement programs that are ongoing, from kindergarten to the final year of high school, with an emphasis on junior grades. Repeat messages and reinforce skill development throughout higher grade levels. Use different approaches for different groups (based on students' age, sex, level of use, attitudes, etc.).

  • Get students involved in planning and delivering the program.
  • Talk about why people use drugs and what kinds of things they could do instead.
  • Present honest and factual information.
  • Don't rely on exaggeration or scare tactics.
  • Include realistic information about the dangers of using drugs and the benefits of not using drugs.
  • Discuss and correct perceptions about the use of alcohol and other drugs in society.
  • Provide an open, non-judgmental and tolerant environment.
  • Provide opportunities for active learning rather than a lecture-only format.
  • Use leaders that the students trust, including peers.
  • Reinforce messages in the community, given by parents, media and health policies.

(Reprinted from YOUTH SCOOP…Programs That Work With Youth; Is There A Secret Formula, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, 2000.)

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