Stress and Drug Abuse

First published 2007. To view the latest Heads Up content, click here.

Use the lesson and student worksheet below to reinforce comprehension of the student article “Stress and Drug Abuse.” 


Dear Teacher: 
As a teacher you see students under stress every day—from pressures of over-scheduling to worries about how to fit in. This month’s Heads Up article from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and Scholastic provides students with information to help them make smart choices when they feel overwhelmed. In the article they’ll find science-based facts about stress, information about the connections between stress and drug abuse, and practical suggestions for handling stress.

The Lesson Plan and Student Worksheet that follow are designed to help students understand this important information.

Thank you for working with NIDA to bring the facts about stress and drug abuse to your students.




Nora D. Volkow, M.D.
Director of NIDA


In This Installment

  • What is stress and how can teens better handle it?
  • How does the body react to stress and drugs?
  • What are some of the connections between stress and drug abuse?



Preparation: Before the lesson, make two photocopies of the Student Worksheet for a pre- and post-lesson quiz.

Assessment Tools
Use the Student Worksheet as an assessment quiz to determine what your students have learned about the connections between stress and drug abuse. 


OBJECTIVE: Students will understand and reinforce their knowledge of how stress affects the body, how drugs impact the body’s response to stress, and how stress and drug abuse are related. 

NATIONAL SCIENCE EDUCATION STANDARDS: Life Science; Science in Personal and Social Perspectives



  • Introduce the topic of stress by asking students about stress they experience in their daily lives. Briefly discuss their responses. What are some ways (positive and negative) that teens respond to stress? Record student responses.
  • Distribute copies of the Student Worksheet. Tell students to write their name on the paper and answer the questions.
  • Have students read the article “Stress and Drug Abuse” in their magazine. When they have finished, begin a discussion by asking, What are some ways that the body reacts to stress? What are some connections between drugs of abuse and stress? What has some of the latest scientific research revealed about stress and drugs?
  • After the discussion, have students complete the Student Worksheet again. When they have finished, reveal the correct answers to the worksheet.
  • Wrap up the lesson by asking students, How would you respond to a friend who says, “I know that using drugs reduces stress”? What are some healthy ways that you can reduce stress?

Take the quiz on the Student Worksheet.

1. e; 2. e; 3. c; 4. e; 5. c; 6. d; 7. a; 8. a; 9. b; 10. a.



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