Learning activity for Junior High and High School

Expected Outcome:

Young people will feel some of the emotional and spiritual burdens brought on by lying about drug or alcohol use.

Focus Scripture: Proverbs 15:14 (NRSV)

“The mind of one who has understanding seeks knowledge, but the mouths of fools feed on folly.”

Materials Needed:

Weights such as bricks, heavy stones, or heavy books (one for each participant)

Tips for Youth Leaders

Young people will realize that the negative consequences of using drugs, alcohol, or tobacco go beyond physical risks. They will see that using these substances almost always leads to lies, which can damage relationships and lead to emotional and spiritual burdens.

Activity Directions

Step 1 - Invite each person in the group to pick up one of the weights (they won’t all be used) and then form a group circle in the middle of the room. Ask for one volunteer from the group to put down her/his weight and step into the middle of the circle.

Explain that you are going to tell a story about the volunteer. With each event described in the story, the volunteer will take one of the weights from a person in the circle and continue to hold it until the story is finished.

Step 2 – Read the following story (or make one up of your own) inserting the volunteer’s name in the appropriate places:

“__________ [Insert volunteer’s name] was at school and a casual friend mentioned a party that was coming up the next weekend where there would definitely be alcohol and probably some marijuana. __________ didn’t really want to go, partly because he/she had just signed a pledge at church to stay drug-free. However, __________ knew that a lot of people from school were going to the party and that everyone would be talking about it on Monday. Later when his/her best friend asked if he/she wanted to go to the party, __________ said sure. At this point the volunteer should step forward and take a weight from someone in the circle.

When the weekend rolled around __________ was feeling pretty unsure about what to do. __________ knew that his/her parents and youth leader would be disappointed if he/she went to the party, but it also sounded fun and practically everyone from school was going to be there. __________ decided it was important to his/her social status to go to the party, however __________ was planning to not drink or use any drugs. __________ told his/her parents that he/she would be staying overnight at the best friend’s house and the best friend told his/her parents the same thing. Add another weight.

At the party, someone handed __________ a beer right away. Add a weight

__________ pretended to drink it for a while and eventually started taking small sips. Soon the drink was gone and the best friend grabbed two more and handed one to __________. After a while, a group of people started playing a game that involved drinking shots of liquor. Someone called out __________ name and said, ‘Hey, you’re no wimp, come and see if you can beat Alex.” __________ was embarrassed and didn’t want to make a scene. Plus he/she had sipped through the second beer and was starting to feel a bit more reckless. So, __________ said, ‘Sure I can,’ and walked over to the group.

Add a weight.

After drinking a number of shots, __________ was feeling kind of funny and a little bit sick. Then __________ noticed someone that he/she had been wanting to ask out on a date for a long time. __________ stumbled over and slurred hello. The potential date looked bothered and asked if __________ was drunk. __________ said no. It was obvious that __________ had been drinking and the potential date walked away. Add a weight

The best friend smoked some marijuana and he/she and __________ ended up sleeping at the party. The next morning __________ felt awful. When __________ got home, his/her parents noticed that he/she didn’t seem as spunky as usual. They asked if anything was wrong. __________ said No. The next day at church __________ youth worker said that he had heard about the party and wondered if he/she knew anything about it. The youth worker was concerned that someone in the community was supplying drugs and alcohol to youth. __________ said that he/she had just been there for a little while and hadn’t seen anyone drinking or using drugs. Add a weight.

Step 3 – By this time the volunteer will be loaded down with the heavy weights. Ask the volunteer how it feels to be holding so many weights. Then let everyone put down their weights. Sit in a circle and talk about the activity. Begin by asking if anyone noticed at what points the weights were added. They may or may not realize that every personal interaction in the story involved a lie. Point out that drugs and alcohol have many negative effects on the lives of young people and that one of those is that it almost always leads to situations in which young people feel they must lie to cover their activities. Then ask:

    Why do you think we used weights to represent lies?
    How is carrying the burden of lies similar to carrying a burden of weights?
    What happens to our bodies, minds, and spirits when we carry the burden of lies?
    What do you think would have happened if [volunteer] had told the best friend the truth in the first place (that he/she didn’t really want to go to the party)?
    Is it harder to lie, or tell the truth? Why?
    What does our faith say about telling the truth, even when it’s difficult?
    What does our faith teach us about handling our burdens?

Step 4 – Conclusion
By showing youth the connection between drug and alcohol use, and the heavy, weighted-down feelings brought on by lies, you may cause them to think twice the next time they are faced with a choice about whether or not to use drugs, alcohol or tobacco.

Encourage group members to think twice the next time they are in a situation in which their choice might cause them to lie – and to remember the uncomfortable burden lies make us bear.