The Science of Addiction

First published 2006. To view the latest Heads Up content, click here.

Use the lesson and student worksheet below to reinforce comprehension of the student article “The Science of Addiction.” 


Dear Teacher:

The National Institute on Drug Abuse and Scholastic realize that teachers can have a major impact on protecting children from becoming addicted to drugs of abuse. That is why we continually strive to provide you and your students with science-based facts about drugs and their dangers. Over the course of the next few months, we will bring you a series of articles about addiction that will help students understand the effect of addiction on teen brains and bodies.

We appreciate all your efforts in helping your students get the real facts about addiction and how it can affect them.


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


In This Installment:

  • Why drug addiction is a disease
  • How drug addiction changes the brain
  • The latest research



Before displaying the lesson, make two photocopies of the Student Activity Reproducible for a pre- and post-lesson quiz. 

Assessment Tools: 
Use the Student Activity Reproducible as an Assessment Quiz to determine what your students have learned about drug addiction. 

To test students’ self-knowledge about drug addiction before and after reading the article. 

Life Science; Science in Personal and Social Perspective



  • Ask students, What do you think addiction is? and How do drugs affect the brain to cause addiction? Give students time for discussion.
  • Distribute copies of the Student Activity Reproducible. Tell students to write their name on the paper, and answer the questions.
  • Have students silently read the article “The Science of Addiction” in their magazine. When they have finished, begin a discussion by asking: Why is the teen brain especially susceptible to the effects of drug abuse? What are some of the risk factors that lead to drug abuse and addiction? How can prescription drugs be just as dangerous as street drugs?
  • After the discussion, tell students you are going to find out if they know more about drug addiction and their brains than they did before.
  • Wrap up the lesson by asking students: Why are drugs addictive? What can you do to prevent drug addiction?


Take the quiz on the Student Worksheet.


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

More Information: 


Download a print copy of:

Browse Other Content