Drug Facts: Shatter the Myths

First published 2010. To view the latest Heads Up content, click here.
Poster/Teaching Guide Highlights:

  • Aligns with National Standards
  • Grades 6–12
  • Poster
  • Teaching Guide
  • Questions from the National Drug IQ Challenge
  • Worksheets in English and Spanish


Welcome Teachers!

Hear that sound? It’s the shattering of myths about drugs and drug abuse.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse’s annual “Drug Facts Chat Day” (drugabuse.gov/chat), already popular with many teachers and students, has shown us what you know—teens have a lot of questions about drugs and drug abuse. Without a credible source for answers, teens may turn to the Internet, friends, and pop culture, which can leave them with dangerous misinformation and serious consequences.

This poster/teaching guide, Drug Facts: Shatter the Myths, is designed for you to display and use in your classroom year-round to remind students of the importance of getting the facts when it comes to drugs and drug abuse.

Below you’ll find turnkey tools to help students think for themselves and to make smart decisions. We hope that you will use these materials during NIDA’s National Drug Facts Week (NDFW). NDFW is a new national health observance week for teens, which features school- and community-based Q&A events where teens can get factual answers, not judgments, from science experts regarding their questions about drugs. Visit drugfactsweek.drugabuse.gov for more information and to look for events in your community. Below you’ll find:

  • A full-color classroom poster highlighting NIDA’s teen resource teens.drugabuse.gov
  • Eye-opening questions and answers from the National Drug IQ Challenge
  • A turnkey lesson plan and worksheet to help students identify drug facts vs. myths
  • Take-home activities (English and Spanish versions)

We hope you use this important program with your students to help shatter myths that surround drugs and drug abuse.


Nora D. Volkow, M.D.
Director, National Institute of Drug Abuse

Ann Amstutz Hayes
Vice President, Scholastic Inc.



Download and print a copy of the complete teaching guide Drug Facts: Shatter the Myths (PDF). The lesson plan, worksheets, quizzes, and answer key are also available as single pages for download below.
Download and print a copy of the poster Drug Facts: Shatter the Myths (PDF)


Alignment With National Standards

Science (NSES, NRC)

  • Life Science
  • Science in Personal and Social Perspectives
    — Risks and benefits
    — Personal and community health

Life Skills (McREL)

  • Self-regulation
  • Thinking and Reasoning

Reading/Writing (IRA/NCTE)

  • Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
  • Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

Sources: Science—National Science Education Standards, National Research Council; Life Skills—McREL, mcrel.org/standards-benchmarks; Reading/Writing—IRA/NCTE Standards for the English Language Arts, ncte.org/standards.

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Download and print a copy of the Lesson Plan (PDF)

Getting Started: Make a copy of all lessons and worksheets before displaying the classroom poster. The poster can be a useful discussion lead-in for the lesson.

“Drug Facts vs. Myths”
Students identify questions that they have about drugs, and then research facts vs. myths.

Materials: “Drug Facts vs. Myths” worksheet (English and Spanish versions provided)

Time Required: One 20-minute class period, with additional time for wrap-up


  • Discuss sources where students might get information regarding drugs. Answers might include: friends, family, health professionals, educators, law enforcement, Internet, media, TV, music, clergy/faith leaders. What are the pros and cons of each?
  • Why are facts important when it comes to drugs? How do you determine what is factual and what is not (myth)? What types of questions should you ask to help you determine if a particular source is reliable or not? Answers might include: Is the information fact-checked/verified? What are the provider’s qualifications? Does the information reflect personal opinion or bias? Is the information up-to-date?


  • Step 1: Have students identify a question they have about drugs. Distribute the “Drug Facts vs. Myths” worksheet for students to write down their question. (For additional questions, give students extra worksheets.) 
  • Step 2: Working in small groups, ask students to survey classmates and write down their responses. Then ask them to survey individuals outside of class for additional responses. (Note: English and Spanish versions of the worksheet are provided.) 
  • Step 3: Have students research (and cite) reliable sources for factual information regarding their question. See “Resources” section below. 
  • Step 4: Based on responses in Step 2 and facts in Step 3, have students identify myths that might exist regarding the question they developed in Step 1.

Download and print a copy of the worksheet in English (PDF)
Download and print a copy of the worksheet in Spanish (PDF)


  • Did you “shatter” any myths by uncovering facts about drugs? How can knowing facts help you make smart decisions in situations involving drugs? 

Additional Discussion Topics

  • How do you convince a friend who is using drugs that he or she may be at risk for addiction or other bad consequences even though they feel fine right now? 
  • Some teens may believe the myth that abusing prescription drugs is safe because the drugs are prescribed by a doctor. What information would convince you or your friends that abusing prescription drugs could be dangerous? 
  • Do you consider it cheating when athletes use steroids to improve their performance? If yes, what should the consequences be?
  • Knowing what we do now, would you make cigarettes illegal if you could? What information should lawmakers consider in deciding whether to make a drug legal or illegal? 

Additional Activity 

Students can further their understanding of drug facts by taking the National Drug IQ Challenge. 

Materials: Questions from the National Drug IQ Challenge and Answer Key reproducibles (English and Spanish versions provided)

Distribute copies for students to do as an additional in-class activity and as a take-home activity with their families.

Also challenge students to take the complete National Drug IQ Challenge online available free at drugfactsweek.drugabuse.gov/iqchallenge.php.

Download and print a copy of the Drug IQ Challenge in English (PDF)
Download and print a copy of the Drug IQ Challenge in Spanish (PDF)
Download and print a copy of the answer key for the Drug IQ Challenge (PDF) or scroll down for the answers.


National Drug Facts Week
drugfactsweek.drugabuse.gov  A new national health observance week just for teens featuring Q&A events in which teens get a chance to ask honest questions about drugs and get factual, nonjudgmental answers from scientific experts. Also includes the free downloadable booklet Drug Facts: Shatter the Myths, with scientists’ answers to questions about drugs and drug abuse. 

Drug Facts Chat Day
drugabuse.gov/chat  NIDA’s annual online “chat” event in which teens get answers to their drug-related questions from NIDA scientists. Also visit the Web site for complete Q&A transcripts of all Chat Day events.

NIDA for Teens 
teens.drugabuse.gov  NIDA’s teen site, featuring facts, games, videos, and real-life stories about the science of drug abuse and addiction.

Heads Up: Real News About Drugs and Your Body
scholastic.com/headsup  Co-developed by NIDA and Scholastic, this series provides cutting-edge student and teacher content.

National Drug IQ Challenge
drugfactsweek.drugabuse.gov/iqchallenge.php  An online challenge to test students’ knowledge about facts related to drug abuse and addiction.




Worksheet: Drug Facts vs. Myths

In this activity, you’ll identify facts vs. myths regarding a question you have about drugs. (Steps 1 and 2 you’ll do in class and at home.)

Identify a question you have about drugs:

Step 2: SURVEY
Ask the question of different people, and record their answers:

  • Me:
  • Classmate(s):
  • Family member(s):
  • Other person(s) outside of class:

Consult teens.drugabuse.gov to get factual answers to your question in Step 1. (Make sure to cite your sources.)

Based on responses you gathered in Step 2, what misinformation (myths) did people have with respect to your question?

Download and print a copy of the Drug Facts vs. Myths worksheet in English (PDF)




Hoja de trabajo: Hechos y mitos sobre las drogas

En esta hoja de trabajo, identificarás hechos y mitos con relación a una pregunta que tengas sobre las drogas. (Los pasos 1 y 2 los puedes completar en la clase y en la casa.)

Identifica una pregunta que tengas sobre las drogas:

Hazle la pregunta a diferentes personas, y anota las respuestas:

  • Yo:
  • Compañero(s):
  • Miembro(s) de la familia:
  • Otro(s) fuera de la clase:

Para obtener las respuestas a tu pregunta en el Paso 1 consulta la página web teens.drugabuse.gov. (Asegúrate de citar las fuentes).

Basándote en las respuestas que reuniste en el Paso 2 ¿qué información errónea (mitos) tenían las personas?

Download and print a copy of the Drug Facts vs. Myths worksheet in Spanish (PDF)




Take-Home Activity

Test your drug smarts with the questions below from the National Drug IQ Challenge. Take the complete challenge online at: drugfactsweek.drugabuse.gov/IQchallenge.php.

1. What is the substance most abused by high school seniors? 

A. Marijuana
B. Tobacco
C. Alcohol
D. Ecstasy

2. Studies have found that up to 14 percent of drivers injured or killed in traffic accidents tested positive for:

A. Tranquilizers, like benzodiazepines
B. Heroin/opioids
C. Marijuana/cannabis
D. Methamphetamine/cocaine

3. The most commonly abused class of prescription drugs is:

A. Sleep medications (Ambien®, Lunesta®, Sonata®)
B. Tranquilizers (benzodiazepines —Valium®, Xanax®)
C. Pain relievers (opioids —Vicodin®, Oxycontin®)
D. Stimulants (Concerta®, Ritalin®, Adderall®)

4. Anabolic (growing or building) steroids—used by some athletes to improve performance—can do which of the following?

A. Limit how tall you grow
B. Make you bald and shrink your testicles
C. Give you body hair where you don’t want it
D. Give you acne
E. Steroids can have all of these effects

5. Snorting cocaine can cause:

A. Panic attacks 
B. Drowsiness
C. Heart attacks and seizures
D. Both A and C
E. All of the above

6. Why does marijuana make you hungry?

A. Because THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) causes diarrhea
B. Because THC affects the brain
C. Because brownies are usually around when using marijuana
D. Because marijuana use leads to severe weight loss

7. Which of these webs is made by a spider that is NOT on drugs?

A. spidera.jpg



8. How many Americans die from diseases associated with tobacco use each year?

A. About 1,500  
B. About 13,200
C. About 50,500
D. About 440,000

 9. What is the leading cause of preventable birth defects?

A. Tobacco
B. Alcohol
C. Marijuana
D. Cocaine

10. It’s safe to use prescription medications when:

A. You’ve checked out WebMD and know what you are doing
B. You’ve taken them before for another problem
C. They are prescribed for you by a doctor for a current problem
D. Your mom gave them to you from her prescription
E.  All of the above


Download and print a copy of the Drug IQ Challenge in English (PDF)




Actividad para completar en casa

Prueba tu conocimiento sobre las drogas con las preguntas siguientes del Reto

Nacional sobre el Coeficiente Intelectual (CI) sobre las Drogas. Toma el reto en el Internet: drugfactsweek.drugabuse.gov/IQchallenge.php.


1. ¿Cuál es la sustancia de la que más abusan los estudiantes en el último año de secundaria?

A. Marihuana
B. Tabaco
C. Alcohol
D. éxtasis

2. Los estudios han encontrado que hasta un 14 por ciento de los conductores heridos o muertos en accidentes de tráfico fueron causados por el consumo de:

A. Los tranquilizantes, como las benzodiacepinas
B. La heroína/opioides
C. La marihuana/cannabis
D. La metanfetamina y la cocaína

3. La clase de medicamento de prescripción de la que más se abusa es la siguiente:

A. Los medicamentos de prescripción para dormir  (Ambien®, Lunesta®, Sonata®)
B. Los tranquilizantes (benzodiacepinas —Valium®, Xanax®)
C. Los analgésicos (opioides —Vicodin®, OxyContin®)
D. Los estimulantes (Concerta®, Ritalin®, Adderall®)

4. Los esteroides anabólicos (usados para el crecimiento o aumento muscular) se utilizan por algunos atletas para mejorar su rendimiento. Estos esteroides pueden causar cuál de los siguientes efectos:

A. Limitar el crecimiento
B. Hacer caer el cabello y encoger los testículos
C. Hacer crecer vello corporal donde no se desea
D. Causar acné
E. Los esteroides pueden tener todos estos efectos

5. Inhalar cocaína puede causar:

A. Los ataques de pánico
B. La somnolencia
C. Los ataques al corazón y convulsiones
D. Las respuestas A y C
E. Todas las anteriores

6. ¿Por qué la marihuana da hambre?

A. Debido a que el THC (el ingrediente activo en la marihuana) causa la diarrea
B. Debido a que el THC afecta el cerebro
C. Debido a que los bizcochos están cerca cuando están usando la marihuana
D. Porque el uso de la marihuana causa pérdida severa de peso

7. ¿Cuál de estas telas está hecha por una araña que NO está usando drogas?




8. ¿Cuántos estadounidenses mueren de enfermedades asociadas con el consumo de tabaco cada año?

A. Alrededor de 1,500            
B. Alrededor de 13,200
C. Alrededor de 50,500
D. Alrededor de 440,000

9. ¿Cuál es la causa principal de los defectos de nacimiento que se pueden prevenir?

A. Tabaco
B. Alcohol
C. Marihuana
D. Cocaína

10. Se pueden usar los medicamentos de prescripción cuando:

A. Has visto la página de Internet de WebMD y sabes lo que estás haciendo
B. Los has tomado antes por otro problema
C. Un médico te los recetó para un problema actual
D. Tu madre te los dio de su receta
E. Todas las respuestas anteriores


Download and print a copy of the Drug IQ Challenge in Spanish (PDF)




Answer Key: Questions from the National Drug IQ Challenge

 Download and print a copy of the answer key for the Drug IQ Challenge (PDF) or scroll down for the answers.


1. C. Forty-four percent of high school seniors drank alcohol in the past month; 21% used marijuana. — drugabuse.gov/infofacts/HSYouthtrends.html 
2. C. Marijuana can alter perception, attention, coordination, and reaction time—all of which are necessary for safe driving. Alcohol remains the number one drug reported in traffic-related deaths—32%, in 2008. —nida.nih.gov/Infofacts/driving.html
3. C. The latest survey shows that nearly 12 million people abused pain relievers in 2008, more than any other type of prescription drug. —nida.nih.gov/infofacts/PainMed.html
4.  E. To get the desired effects on performance, users take high doses of steroids, which can lead to all of the effects noted. —some of which can be permanent. —steroidabuse.gov
5.  D. Cocaine users not only risk panic attacks, heart attacks, and seizures, but also respiratory failure, strokes, and death. —nida.nih.gov/ResearchReports/Cocaine/effects.html#short
6. B. THC affects several brain areas, including those that influence appetite, as well as pleasure, memory, perception, pain, movement, coordination, and more. —drugabuse.gov/tib/marijuana.html
7. C. In 1948, a German scientist, P.N. Witt, studied how drugs affected spiders’ webmaking and found notable differences. Web A was made by a spider on marijuana; Web B by one on amphetamine; and Web C (a normal shape) by a spider not on any drug. Spider Communication: Mechanisms and Ecological Significance, Edited by Peter N. Witt & Jerome S. Rovner, Princeton University Press, 1982.
8. D. Of the 440,000, 49,900 deaths were attributed to people who were exposed to secondhand smoke. See chart for further information. —cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/tables/health/attrdeaths


9.  B. Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is the most common known preventable cause of mental impairment. Babies born with FAS may have lifelong problems in learning, memory, attention, and problem solving. —pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/fas/fas.htm
10. C. No matter how well-intentioned friends and family may be, only a physician is qualified to prescribe the right medication in the right dose for you. —nida.nih.gov/ResearchReports/Prescription/prescription6.html#Preventing




Soluciones: A las preguntas del reto nacional sobre el coeficiente intellectual (CI) sobre las drogas

Download and print a copy of the answer key for the Drug IQ Challenge (PDF) or scroll down for the answers.

1. C. Cuarenta y cuatro por ciento de los estudiantes del 12° grado bebieron alcohol durante el mes anterior; 21% usaron marihuana — drugabuse.gov/infofacts/HSYouthtrends.html
2. C. La marihuana puede alterar la percepción, atención, coordinación y tiempo de reacción, los cuales son necesarios para conducir con seguridad. Según las estadísticas de 2008, el alcohol sigue siendo la droga más reportada en los accidentes mortales de tráfico (32%). —nida.nih.gov/Infofacts/driving.html
3. C. La encuesta más reciente muestra que casi 12 millones de personas abusaron de los analgésicos en 2008, más que cualquier otro tipo de medicamento de prescripción. —nida.nih.gov/infofacts/PainMed.html
4. E. Hay personas que usan altas dosis de esteroides, lo cual puede inducir a todos los efectos observados, para afectar el rendimiento del cuerpo. Algunos de los efectos pueden ser permanentes. —steroidabuse.gov
5. D. Las personas que usan la cocaína arriesgan tener ataques de pánico, ataques al corazón y convulsiones, así como también nsuficiencia respiratoria, derrames cerebrales y la muerte. —nida.nih.gov/ResearchReports/Cocaine/effects.html#short
6. B. El THC afecta varias áreas del cerebro, incluyendo las partes que influyen en el apetito, así como en el placer, la memoria, la percepción, el dolor, el movimiento, la coordinación y más. —drugabuse.gov/tib/marijuana.html
7. C. En 1948, un científico alemán, P.N. Witt, estudió cómo las drogas afectaban la capacidad de las arañas de tejer telarañas y encontró diferencias notables. La telaraña A fue hecha por una araña intoxicada con marihuana, la B por una araña con anfetaminas y la C (una forma normal) por una araña que no había usado ninguna droga. Spider Communication: Mechanisms and Ecological Significance, Edited by Peter N. Witt & Jerome S. Rovner, Princeton University Press, 1982.
8. D. De las 440,000 muertes, 49,900 se atribuyeron a personas que estuvieron expuestas al humo del cigarrillo. Mira la tabla para más información. —cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/tables/health/attrdeaths


9. B. El síndrome alcohólico fetal (SAF) es la causa más común y más conocida de retraso mental que se puede prevenir. Los bebés que nacen con SAF pueden tener problemas de por vida en el aprendizaje, la memoria, la atención y la resolución de problemas. —pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/fas/fas.htm
10. C. No importan las buenas intenciones de los amigos y familiares, sólo un médico te puede recetar el medicamento y la dosis correcta. —nida.nih.gov/ResearchReports/Prescription/prescription6.html#Preventing


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