A lesson plan based on “Faded at 14—until I said no” in the November-December 2001 issue of L.A. Youth, in which a writer described her cravings for pot and how she stopped smoking it.

By Libby Hartigan, Managing Editor

Grades: 6-12
Subjects: Language Arts, Social Studies, Psychology, Health, Impact group

Overview of lesson plan: In this lesson, students assess why youth smoke pot and discuss solutions.
Suggested time allowance: 45 min. – 1 hr.

Students will:
1. Define substance abuse.
2. Assess how they and their friends have been affected by marijuana.
3. Evaluate how pot users are hurting themselves.
4. Explore how teens can stay away from or stop smoking pot.

Resources and materials:
—copies of L.A. Youth article “Faded at 14—until I said no” (one per student)
—classroom blackboard

1. WARM-UP: Write “signs of drug addiction” on the board. Ask students to describe what happens to someone who is addicted to drugs. As students discuss their ideas, jot down some of them on the board.

2. Ask students to turn to page 4 of the November-December 2001 issue of L.A. Youth. There is a list of signs of substance abuse. Did students catch all of these signs in their descriptions of drug addiction? Were there any that the students missed?

3. Ask students to read the article on “Faded at 14—until I said no.” Discuss the article, focusing on the following questions:
    a.   In this article, she describes what it’s like to be high. How does she describe it?
    b.   What are some of the reasons why she kept smoking pot?
    c.   The writer also describes the negative consequences of her marijuana use. What are they?
    d.   Does the writer have a serious problem with marijuana? Would you say she was a “drug addict?” Why or why not? How many of the symptoms on the check list did the writer exhibit?

4. The writer manages to stop using marijuana on her own, but many people can’t do it by themselves. Ask the class what a person can do to get help with drugs or alcohol. Options may include talking to friends, family and clergy; seeing a doctor; going to a counselor or therapist, attending self-help meetings (such as Alcoholics Anonymous) and entering a drug rehabilitation center.

5. WRAP-UP: In class or as homework, ask your students to imagine that they have a friend with a serious drug problem. Ask them to write a letter confronting their friend about the drug abuse, but the letter must follow these rules:
    •    Don’t accuse your friend of being an alcoholic or a drug addict, but do express your concern. Try not to blame your friend for the problem. If you do, he or she might be turned off right away.
    •    Talk about your feelings. Tell your friend you’re worried, and how you feel when you see him or her drunk or high on other drugs.
    •    Tell your friend what you’ve seen him or her do when drinking or using other drugs. Give specific examples. Tell your friend you want to help.
    •    Write in a caring and understanding tone of voice, not with pity but with friendship.
    •    End the letter by including some resources to help your friend.

Evaluation and assessment:
Students will be evaluated based on written work and participation in class.

Extension activities:
•    Many popular musicians have made pot-smoking seem cool including Snoop Dogg, Method Man, Limp Bizkit and others. Select one or several of these artists, and organize a letter-writing campaign to ask them not to encourage their listeners to smoke pot.
•    What can you do to make it cool to avoid smoking pot? Develop a campaign to discourage students from smoking pot, including posters, morning announcements and a public service announcement in the school newspaper.