Learning Activity for grades 6 – 8

Expected Outcome:

This activity will help youth examine their knowledge and beliefs about substance abuse and provide them with accurate information about the effects of using drugs, alcohol and tobacco.

Focus Scripture: John 10:10 (NRSV)

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

Materials Needed

    1. “Your Opinion Please” handout (Print out the “Your Opinion Please” worksheet below. Make a copy for each participant. Youth will answer the 10 statements about substance abuse individually and then discuss them as a group.)
    2. “Your Opinion Please” Discussion Points (Print out the “Your Opinion Please” Discussion Points for youth leader to refer to)
    3. Chalk board/white board or flip chart and markers
    4. Pencils or pens

Tips for Youth Leaders

“Your Opinion Please” engages young people in a discussion about their personal beliefs regarding the use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco. While involved in this process, they will receive accurate information about drugs and drug use. This process will help to clear up the myths or misperceptions they may have about substance. Knowledge becomes an anti-drug for youth. Before leading this discussion, it is wise to clarify your own beliefs and practices regarding these issues, and how your faith influences these beliefs and practices. We have included discussion points for each of the ten statements to help prepare you for the discussion. Please remember to discuss the youth group’s answers and not just provide the answer sheet.

Activity Directions

Step 1. – Hand out the “Your Opinion Please” worksheet to each participant. Ask them to work individually and mark their answers.

Step 2. – When individuals have completed their worksheet, have participants move into small groups of four or five. Instruct the groups to share their responses to the statements and talk about their thoughts and feelings behind their answers.

After discussing the statements, have each group consider the following questions that you have written on the chalkboard or flip chart:

    Have you formed definite opinions about the use of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco?
    Were there clear-cut answers to the questions? Why or why not?
    How do your family, friends, and faith influence what you think about these situations?
    Are you familiar with Christian principles about using or not using drugs, alcohol, and tobacco? How do these line up with your own opinions?

Step 3. – Bring everyone back to the large group and discuss the statements on the worksheet. Refer to the “Discussion Points” as the group discusses each of the ten statements. Then go to the questions you have written on the chalk board or flipchart. An opening question might be, “Were there any lively discussions that took place in your small group concerning the questions on the board?”

Step 4 – Conclusion
This activity concludes when all the questions have been discussed. A useful way to summarize is to ask participants what they learned from the activity and discussion. Also ask the youth to apply the discussion to their faith in terms of what it means to live a “Christ-like” life. Ask the youth to complete this statement, “The bottom line for me is…”

“Your Opinion Please” Discussion Points

1. Most young people use drugs, drink alcohol or smoke.
It is a common perception by youth that “everyone uses drugs, alcohol & tobacco.” Yet, studies consistently show that most young people do not use drugs, drink alcohol or smoke. Young people should know that sometimes the word on the street about the frequency of drug use is wrong.

2. People who use drugs, drink alcohol or smoke are bad.
Many drugs have the potential to improve our health and enrich our lives. They protect us from disease, combat infections, cure specific illnesses, and comfort the terminally ill. Yet, the recreational use of certain drugs, alcohol, and tobacco also has the potential to cause serious health, legal, social, emotional, spiritual, and economic problems. People who are experiencing these problems as a result of drug use need assistance. It is our responsibility to seek ways to intervene and provide assistance.

Sometimes we interpret addiction in terms of moral failure. Addiction involves personal choices, but is fundamentally a disease. Because of genetics and other factors, some people can more easily become addicted. People with addiction problems are members of congregations across the U.S.

3. People who choose not to drink alcohol have strong peer support for their decision.
Many young people who choose not to drink alcohol have strong support for their decisions from their peers. Yet others who choose not to drink may lack support for their good decision-making. And many youth who have chosen to drink do not have the kind of peer support that would encourage them to refrain from drinking alcohol. It is important for young people to find out that there is support for not drinking. While it is important to find support for healthy decisions, young people need to clarify what is more important — the opinion of their friends or being faithful to what they believe to be right.

4. My religious beliefs are helpful in making decisions about whether to use or not use drugs, alcohol, or tobacco.
Being clear about your religious beliefs regarding the use of these substances is important and can be helpful in making decisions about using or not using them. Faith needs to be a part of all of life, not just what happens on Sunday mornings. A Christian should ask the question, “What would Jesus do?”

5. There is nothing I can do if someone in my family abuses drugs or alcohol.
There are many things that you can do. When you become aware of the problem, talk to your youth leader or pastor, talk to a school counselor, talk to a school teacher or talk to a trusted adult. It is most important that you do not hide problems, but seek what help is available. There are resources available in your community like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, along with counseling and treatment.

6. I can help my friends decide whether or not to use drugs, alcohol, or tobacco.
One’s family, peers and close friends are extremely important to preteens and teenagers. Peer pressure can influence positively or negatively. Research has found that often the most significant factor in a young person’s decision to use or not to use drugs, alcohol, or tobacco is the influence of peers. Likewise, the influence of parents is a significant factor in whether a youth chooses not to use drugs.

7. It is my responsibility to talk to someone whose drug, alcohol or tobacco use concerns me.
Concerned people of faith clearly have a responsibility to discuss their concern with loved ones when they see behavior that might be harmful to them or to others. Many problems can be resolved because of the concern and feedback of others.

8. Substance abuse problems primarily affect youth.
Substance abuse problems affect people of all ages. In fact, in recent years, the problems of alcohol and prescription drug abuse among our senior population, along with the overuse and misuse of tranquilizers by middle-age adults, have grown significantly.

9. When I have questions about drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, the church is a good place to go for answers.
The church is an appropriate place to go for assistance with concerns about drugs, alcohol, and tobacco use. That is one of the reasons for these activities; we wish to communicate clearly to our young people that our church is an excellent resource. In many congregations there are trusted leaders who are experienced counselors, have an excellent knowledge of community resources, and can provide confidential assistance.

10. I believe the adults around me want to listen to my questions about alcohol, drugs and tobacco.
Answers will vary but the point should be made that the problem of drug and alcohol abuse does not have to be faced alone.

Click here for Learning Activity 1 – Handout.