Effects of Substance Use, Misuse, Abuse, and Addiction | Ophea Teaching Tools

    Effects of Substance Use, Misuse, Abuse, and Addiction

    Activity Card 1
    75 Minutes
    Topics: Addiction, Emotions, Peer Pressure, Personal Skills, Substance Use
    Activity Overview

    Youth will examine personal and societal effects of substance use and misuse, addictions, and related behaviours.


    The educator observes the youths' demonstrated knowledge and understanding of the warning signs of substance misuse or abuse.


    Markers, Poster paper, 1–2 small soft balls

    Minds On

    As a large group, have youth brainstorm the definitions of the words, use, misuse, abuse, and addiction. Divide youths into small groups of 4-5 youth. Each group will have one ball.

    Youths will carefully toss the ball to each other. Each time they catch it they will identify a personal or social outcome of substance use.

    Encourage youths to think beyond the immediate to include effects 10, 20, and 30 years down the road.


    Ensure youths understand that the warning signs of substance misuse and abuse, or addiction, vary widely.

    Divide the youths into groups of 5–6 (called home groups).

    Each person in the group will be an expert on the consequences and warning signs of using or abusing one particular substance (e.g., tobacco, alcohol, cannabis, e-cigarettes, and caffeine, or other substances based on community needs).

    These experts will come together to form an expert group, and use resources available in the class, library, online, and their personal knowledge to determine the negative consequences and warning signs of using the given substance. Each expert should make notes in order to share this information back with their home group.

    Youths return to their home groups to share and record information from all of the group experts. They then share information with the entire class to ensure accuracy of information.


    Have the youths summarize the warning signs into a “Top 5” list. Consider having youths share their lists in creative ways (e.g., digital poster, digital image collage, 140-character poem) through personal or school social media feeds. Responses may include that substance misuse or addiction could:

    • affect a person’s mental and physical health
    • involve breaking the law (e.g., drinking and driving, using illegal drugs, or stealing money to gamble or buy drugs)
    • cause financial difficulties
    • harm relationships and friends
    • cause problems at home, work, or school
    • cause changes in behaviour
    • cause withdrawal from social circles
    • cause a drop in academic performance