Behind Enemy Lines
I have been recruited to help teach our 8th grade health class. Today’s topic was addiction. One student asked if there is anything good about what we termed “recreational and illicit drugs”. The lead teacher — more experienced in both the subject matter and the developmental needs of the students — took a long pause before saying, “I’m going to say that there isn’t anything good about them.”
It took all my effort to not say, “Except how much fun they can be.”
More seriously, what recommendations would you make for discussing this and other related topics with this age range?
One thing I have learned from working with adolescents in other capacities is that nuance is incredibly difficult for them to understand. “The use of these drugs can carry serious legal consequences which can have a detrimental effect on you for years to come. There are also health effects, though there is a wide range based on the particular substance, its method of delivery, frequency and intensity of use, and the individual in question. Some are relatively harmless — certainly less harmful than other legal substances — though the potential legal consequences remain. Ultimately, it is up to the individual to consider the wide range of consequences — both positive and negative and which I have only scratched the surface on — and make a decision for him/herself about usage,” is unlikely to be of much use to a 13-year-old who sees the world in largely black and white terms.
Also, the parents would kill me.
(For what it’s worth, I do not use any “recreational or illicit drugs”. I drink socially. I will have the occasional cigar and VERY occasional cigarette. I smoked weed for a few months in high school but found it wasn’t really for me. I’ve never really been curious about other drugs. So I don’t have much of a dog in the Should-you-or-shouldn’t-you-do-them fight other than to arm the students with the necessary skills to be successful members of society.)