Lesson Plan: Drugs + Your Body—It Isn’t Pretty (Poster/Teaching Guide)

First published 2012. To view the latest Heads Up content, click here.

The lesson plan below is designed to be used with the Drugs + Your Body: It Isn’t Pretty poster/teaching guide, which includes a full-color mini-poster, four turnkey printable worksheets with answer keys, and the lesson plan below. These materials were created to provide students with scientific facts and engage them in critical thinking about how drugs can affect the body, the brain, and society.


Overview and Objectives: The materials in this poster/teaching guide are designed to provide students with scientific facts and engage them in critical thinking about how drugs affect different parts of the body, including the brain, as well as the nonphysical effects on their lives (e.g., difficult relationships, poor grades, problems with friends).

By completing the activities, students will understand how specific drugs can affect the delicate balance between the brain and body, possibly causing lasting physical or mental problems, including addiction. They will also learn how an individual’s drug abuse can affect friends and family and become a public health problem for society at large.
The four printable worksheets found in this poster/teaching guide can be used individually by students and/or as additional resources for larger class discussions. The classroom poster (PDF) can also be used to engage students in the worksheet material. The printable worksheets can be taught independently, but are ideally taught in sequence in the order presented.


Time Required: Approximately 20 minutes for each of the four printable worksheets. Additional time for class discussion may be required.

Launching the Printable Worksheets: Display the classroom poster (PDF) and start a class discussion with students:

  • Provide some examples of how abusing drugs harms the brain and body.
  • Excluding the impact of drugs on the body, how else does drug abuse harm a person? Other people?
  • Where do students get their information about the effects of drug abuse? 

Printable Worksheets Discussion Topics: Instruct students to study the poster and information contained on the printable worksheets and then to use this information to complete each activity and participate in class discussions. Explain to students that the poster and printable worksheets present information about how drugs can affect their brains, bodies, and lives. 

  • Printable Worksheet 1: What do the students know about the brain and what it does? What do they know about how the brain controls the body?
  • Printable Worksheet 2: Why is understanding the physical effects of drugs important information for teens to have? Are teens less likely to abuse drugs when they know the health effects?
  • Printable Worksheet 3: How can the actions of one person affect the lives of others? How can understanding that connection help in decision making?
  • Printable Worksheet 4: Drug abuse is a public health problem. This means it affects not only an individual or his or her family, but society at large. How are communities affected by individual actions? How can society respond to problems that arise from increased drug abuse?

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