Drub-Abuse Prevention Assembly Choices
Whether it is with alcohol or prescription or illegal drugs, millions of Americans abuse substances every year. Some dependencies begin during adolescence, which makes it important to inform kids about the dangers of addiction.
The following organizations offer assemblies, in-class curricula or both to educate students from early elementary grades through high school, deter them from substance abuse and give them the courage to speak up about peers or family members who may have a drug or alcohol dependency.
Botvin LifeSkills Training (LST)
Type of program: In-class
Length of program: 8-15 classes
LST takes a comprehensive approach to teach the skills necessary to resist drugs and alcohol through an in-class curriculum that’s meant to be taught every year. Students also learn to build self-esteem, have healthy relationships and reduce stress and anxiety.
“The combination of drug resistance and life skills has proven to be a powerful formula for preventing drug use and even violence,” says Paulina Kalaj, director of communications and media relations for National Health Promotion Associates. “LST has been extensively tested and proven to reduce tobacco, alcohol and illicit drug use by as much as 80%.”
D.A.R.E. Area: Nationwide
Type of program: In-class
Length of program: 10 hour-long lessons
Taught by a uniformed police officer, the D.A.R.E. program teaches children and teens about the negative effects of controlled substances. In the 4th and 5th grades, students learn how to resist peer pressure in high-risk, low-gain situations like smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol. Middle school students learn about prescription drug abuse, and the high school curriculum focuses on ways to cope with life without resorting to drug or alcohol abuse.
NOPE (Narcotics Overdose Prevention & Education)
Type of program: Assembly
Length of program: 1-hour visit
During an assembly by NOPE, “The message is delivered graphically and emotionally from several perspectives. It is meant to evoke emotion and demand the attention of the students, “ says Kristen Perry, NOPE’s director of operations. To help the information stick, presenters repeat certain trademarked taglines throughout the one-hour presentation such as “Be the Hero… Tell Someone” or “Just One Time Can Kill.”
Many students respond positively to the presentation and seek out help for themselves, a friend or a family member. One student who saw the presentation says, “I learned the true danger of taking prescription drugs and how it can affect you and everyone else around you. The photographs of the people who died greatly affected me as I realized that all of these people had mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters. Life is full of choices, and it is critical to make practical ones that can prevent terrible outcomes.”
Type of program: Assembly & in-class
Length of program: 1 visit, plus in-class instruction
For the past 9 years, Michael DeLeon, executive director of Steered Straight, Inc., has worked to create a program that integrates both in-person presenters and
a year-long curriculum. Three age-appropriate programs focus on staying on the path to dreams, goals and success with emphasis on what DeLeon calls the “trifecta gateway” — tobacco, alcohol and marijuana.
“Going in to schools and talking about opioid use is a waste of a learning experience. Opiates are the end of the problems, not the beginning,” DeLeon says.
Steered Straight’s in-class curriculum lasts 180 days and focuses on the reasons why kids use drugs — like wanting to escape from depression or fit in — and it introduces healthy coping mechanisms. The program also stresses that asking for help is a strength, not a weakness.
Overall, response to the program has been positive. “I have about 100 letters sitting on my desk right now from teachers and principals telling me how much the program has helped their community,” DeLeon notes.
As an English major at Drexel University, Meredith Strom served as a co-op intern at MetroKids.