What I Need to Know about Drugs


What I Need to Know about Drugs is a high-interest reading comprehension lesson that allows students to practice grade-appropriate reading comprehension, foundational reading, and reading fluency skills. These reading comprehension lessons are designed to be completed in one or two class settings.

Each lesson discusses a subject that students want to read about and that teachers will want to incorporate into their reading instruction. The lesson is appropriate as a whole-class, stand-alone lesson or as an independent small-group activity. Be sure to check if there is a Learn Bright video that goes with this lesson!

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What our What I Need to Know about Drugs lesson plan includes

Lesson Objectives and Overview: What I Need to Know about Drugs is a high-interest reading comprehension lesson plan. As such, students will practice various close reading and comprehension skills. In addition, they will learn about the effects of drug abuse and addiction. This lesson is for students in 4th grade, 5th grade, and 6th grade.

Classroom Procedure

Every lesson plan provides you with a classroom procedure page that outlines a step-by-step guide to follow. You do not have to follow the guide exactly. The guide helps you organize the lesson and details when to hand out worksheets. It also lists information in the yellow box that you might find useful. You will find the lesson objectives, state standards, and number of class sessions the lesson should take to complete in this area. In addition, it describes the supplies you will need as well as what and how you need to prepare beforehand.

Teacher Notes

The teacher notes page provides an extra paragraph of information to help guide the lesson. It explains that you can teach this lesson in a whole-class setting or as an independent, small-group activity. You can use the blank lines to write down any other ideas or thoughts you have about the topic as you prepare.


What Is a Drug?

The What I Need to Know about Drugs lesson plan contains four content pages. Have you ever gone to a doctor when you felt sick? And did the doctor prescribe medicine to help you get well? Maybe you’ve had a bad headache, and your parents gave you something to stop the pain. Some of you may take a multivitamin in the morning. Prescription, over-the-counter pain medication you buy at the drugstore, or multivitamins are all types of drugs.

So, what exactly are drugs? And are drugs good or bad for you? Great questions! A drug is a chemical that changes how you feel or act when you take it. Drugs should not be confused with medicine directly. Not all drugs are medicine. They can be very different. Medicines are prescribed by doctors. People are given specific instructions on how they should use the medication.

The lesson explains that medicines generally return your body to a healthy state when you use them as the doctor prescribed. Most medicines are regulated or approved by the federal government (through the Food and Drug Administration, or FDA) and tested for safety. The purpose of medicine is to provide a positive benefit to the person taking it.

Controlled Substance Misuse

Some people use prescribed medicine in ways that the doctor did not intend. In this instance, a medicine becomes an illicit or illegal drug. Remember, a drug is a chemical that changes the way you feel or act. When a person uses prescribed drugs for purposes other than what the doctor intended, this is considered controlled substance misuse. Taking medication for something other than its intended purpose nearly always results in negative consequences to the user.

The difference between illicit drugs and medicines may seem to be a small one. We can say all medicines are drugs as they do change how you feel or act. The results, however, usually bring positive benefits, like getting over the flu or stopping an injury’s pain. Medicines restore normalcy.

But not all drugs are medicines. Non-medicinal drugs have negative effects. They make us do things that we wouldn’t usually think to do. Being informed about the differences and about the impact drugs can have on your future is essential to understanding why you should not choose to use drugs.

What Are the Effects of Non-medical Drugs?

We have learned that prescription medicine can be misused, and misusing a drug will negatively impact a person’s health. Students will then consider a real-life scenario. Your aunt sometimes has trouble sleeping at night, and her doctor prescribed medication to help her sleep. One night you can’t fall asleep, and you wonder, what if I took my aunt’s sleeping pills? What’s the worst thing that can happen? You sneak into your aunt’s room, find the sleeping pills, and swallow a couple before she knows you are there.

In a few minutes, you begin to feel differently. But now you don’t want to sleep. You feel nauseated and lightheaded, and the room is spinning. Your breathing is beginning to slow, and you can’t focus. You start to feel anxious, and you realize that taking the pills might not have been a great idea. No matter how much you want to stay awake, the drug in the pills has taken over your body and mind and you fall asleep. You awake the following day, but you do not feel refreshed. Your body aches, and you are tired and unable to concentrate. You go to school feeling sick and end up falling asleep in class.

The reason this can happen is simple. Your aunt’s medication was prescribed by a doctor for her—an adult. As a kid, that medication is far too strong for you. Worse, it may not stop there! If you were to repeat taking your aunt’s medicine every time you wanted to sleep, your body would start to crave it. If the cycle is not broken, you will eventually be unable to fall asleep without the drug. This is called addiction, or the uncontrollable urge to do or take something. So, what started as a simple sleeping problem one night becomes a potentially life- threatening addiction. Your life’s choices are no longer under your control. Instead, the drug controls you.

Why People Use Drugs

There are lots of reasons people use drugs. For example, some people are curious about how drugs will make them feel. Others think it’s the “cool” or “popular” thing to do. And social media influence some people as well. A few healthy athletes might take drugs because they think doing so will improve their performance. Sometimes people tempt others to take drugs on a dare. Other reasons include wanting to fit in with a social group or believing drugs will make a problem disappear.

Drugs will not solve your problems. They will only make them worse. Drugs will not make you a more popular person, a better friend, or a great athlete. Think about this: Would you like to be friends with someone who wanted you to drink poison? Of course not! What kind of friend wants to poison you? Asking you or daring you to take drugs is no different than asking you to drink poison.

Risks of Using Drugs

Students will learn that whether misusing prescription medications or using drugs they obtain elsewhere, the risks are the same. The lesson lists some of the possible consequences, such as physical and mental damage, problems with friends and family, and the risk of overdosing and dying. Drugs can also cause someone to commit crimes and get in trouble with the police.

It’s difficult to say no to a friend who tries to persuade you to do something, even when you know it isn’t right for you. Everyone wants to have friends and be around fun people. Here’s the question you have to ask if you are in a situation that makes you feel pressured or uncomfortable. Is the risk of permanent damage to your physical and mental health worth taking the drugs? Here are some ideas to help you say no to that persistent friend.

What have we learned so far? Let’s review! There is a difference between the medicine doctors prescribe and illicit drugs. Misuse of controlled substances, whether prescribed by a doctor or illegally obtained, can lead to addiction. Addiction is a serious problem that affects thousands of young people in the United States.

You have the power to control whether you use drugs or not. Friends who try to convince you to try something you know is not right are not good friends. Finally, tell an adult if you know of a friend experimenting with drugs. You may save them from a life of addiction or even death from an overdose.


The What I Need to Know about Drugs lesson plan includes two worksheets: an activity worksheet and a practice worksheet. Each one will help students solidify their grasp of the material they learned throughout the lesson. You can refer to the classroom procedure guidelines to know when to hand out each worksheet.


For the activity, students will have a chance to consider what they would do in a drug-related situation. Students will read the story on the page and then think about what they would do if they were Jenna. You can pair students up or assign them to groups to discuss their thoughts with each other.


The practice worksheet lists 10 questions based on the content. These questions all relate to the content pages, so students will need to refer to them often for the answers. In addition, each question provides which reading tool the question corresponds to, such as text feature, vocabulary, or comprehension.

Worksheet Answer Keys

At the end of the lesson plan document is an answer key for the practice worksheet. The correct answers are all in red to make it easier for you to compare them with students’ responses. If you choose to administer the lesson pages to your students via PDF, you will need to save a new file that omits these pages. Otherwise, you can simply print out the applicable pages and keep these as reference for yourself when grading assignments.

Additional information


4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade


Science, High-Interest Reading

State Educational Standards

NHES.2.5.3, NHES.7.5.1–3
Approximate Lexile Reading Comprehension Level: 810L to 1000L

Lessons are aligned to meet the education objectives and goals of most states. For more information on your state objectives, contact your local Board of Education or Department of Education in your state.