LifeSkills Handbooks Activity 29

This is a single activity session plan from The Lifeskills Handbook. There are 61 activity sessions in this book and this is Activity 29. The book is available from our resources section where you’ll also find downloadable storybooks, booklets and posters to help you in your work.

LifeSkills Handbooks Activity 29 – What do I think about substance abuse?

Purpose of Activity:

  • To explore children’s attitudes about substance abuse and how they are affected by others
  • To correct myths and share correct information

Life Skills: Self-awareness, Critical Thinking

Important Points
You may not wish to deal with all these issues in one session. You may divide them up according to whether you are dealing with smoking, drinking or other drugs. Many people take risks by using harmful substances even though they know that these things damage their health. Some people become addicted, which makes it difficult to give up.


  • 2 large signs reading Agree and Disagree
  • Attitude statements such as those below (adapt these to suit the needs of your group)


  1. Place the Agree sign in one corner and the Disagree sign in the opposite corner of the room.
  2. Ask the children to stand in the middle of the room.
  3. Say that you are going to read out a statement, they should go immediately to either the agree or disagree corner. There is no room for ‘not sure’ – they have to decide.
  4. Read out a statement and when the children have chosen their corners, ask them why they chose to move there. If necessary, give information to correct any wrong information. Do this for about 10 statements.
  5. At the end, ask the children to choose a partner and discuss how they made their decisions: to what extent did they decide on their own, and to what extent did they looked at what others were doing. Use this to talk about the power of peer pressure in our lives.

Attitude statements and facts

Issues surrounding attitudes to smoking and drugs are complex and sensitive, and they are different in different countries. The information below is intended only as a starting point for discussions.

  • The risks of smoking are exaggerated. I know people who smoke but they don’t have any health problems
    Not everyone who smokes has health problems now. But medical studies show a link between smoking cigarettes and diseases like lung cancer and heart disease. Over a quarter of all regular smokers die of smoking related diseases. Those people who start to smoke when they are young are more likely to die of smoking related diseases.
  • People should be allowed to smoke as and where they wish. It’s their right.
    A smoker risks their own life but also the health of other people who breathe the smoke from their cigarettes. This is why many countries have laws which do not allow smoking in public areas such as transport and buildings. Many organisations have made their offices smoke-free and some people do not allow smoking inside their homes.
  • Smoking is not a serious risk like unprotected sex etc.
    Over a quarter of all regular smokers die of smoking related diseases.
  • Smoking is cool
    Smoking cigarettes seriously damages your health so it’s foolish to start smoking. Fools are not cool. It is not cool to ignore avoidable risks and it is not cool if we are fooled by advertisements.
  • Everything in life is dangerous, even crossing a road
    It is true that life is full of risks, and that everything has some element of danger. However, we have to accept some risks that are necessary and we can reject risks which are unnecessary and avoidable.
  • People who take drugs should be punished
    It is important to find out how and why people started taking drugs. It is better to concentrate first on how to prevent people from starting to take drugs.
  • Smoking tobacco is far more dangerous than smoking marijuana
    They are both dangerous. The tar produced by marijuana contains more cancer-producing agents than tobacco tar.
  • Drug takers only have themselves to blame if they ask sick
    Some drug-taker deliberately started taking drugs but many are pushed into it by peer pressure, pressure in their lives or by drug dealers. Many people take drugs to escape from the difficulties or problems in their lives. Whatever the reason, once they are addicted, they need a lot of support to help them give up.
  • People who don’t drink are either religious fanatics or cowards
    Whether to drink alcohol or not is a personal decision. It may be determined by religious reasons or many other reasons.
  • Alcohol is a part of our culture
    Alcohol may be a part of some cultures, but drunkenness is not.

Final Discussion:

Why do you think some doctors smoke? If you were the leader of our country, what laws would you pass about smoking, alcohol and drugs?

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