I visited the PCR 6th grade on Thursday and we talked about alcohol:
The first question I asked was how many kids knew that alcohol was a drug. Many of the kids never think of alcohol as a drug because we always use the phrase “drugs and alcohol”. I also asked the kids how many of them had ever seen either of their parents drinking alcohol at least once. Every time I ask that question 95-100% of the class raise their hands. The fact is that most adults that the kids interact with have at least a little experience with alcohol. It is every adult’s duty to make sure they are drinking responsibly (especially in front of their kids), but there’s also no need for a kid to be worried every time they see their mom or dad have a glass of wine, beer or a cocktail.
Next, I told them that alcohol is in the category of drugs called “depressants” and explained how it differs from the drugs we talked about earlier (THC, which is a hallucinogen, and caffeine, which is a stimulant). Then we talked about the types of alcohol that people drink: beer, wine and hard liquor. Serving sizes and potency may vary among the different types of alcohol, but overindulging in any type of alcohol can lead to severe consequences.
I asked the kids if they had ever seen someone that was intoxicated, and then I took a few minutes to compile the symptoms of an intoxicated person. The list included things like slowed heart rate, slurred speech, loud and obnoxious behavior, wonky eyes, passing out, throwing up, all the way to the most severe consequences of overdose (alcohol poisoning) and death.
We also talked about the types of laws people break that are related to alcohol. Drinking in public or drinking while driving might get someone a ticket, but being intoxicated in public or while driving a car will land them in jail. The kids had a lot of questions regarding their own experiences, so I tried to answer them all. I finished by talking about the different circumstances in which adults may drink and compared them to the generally more dangerous and irresponsible contexts in which teenagers drink. Most adults drink in a perfectly responsible fashion, but some adults ruin their lives with alcohol. However, when underage people drink (usually in secret and/or away from the prying eyes of adults) it is almost exclusively a dangerous situation that leads to bad consequences.