Background For Teachers
 
Grades 9-12 (ages 14-18)

Youths in grades 9-12 (14- to 18-year-olds, approximately) are a diverse population. The years between 14 and 18 represent vast changes from the immaturity of early adolescence to the nearly full maturity of adulthood.

Influence of peers and adults
From ages 14 to 18, friendships become increasingly important to youths, and friends become a source of information for making sometimes-significant decisions. At these ages, friendships can be volatile. Girls especially may be friendly and supportive of one another one day and non-communicative and hurtful the next. Adults may wish to intervene, but they need to exercise restraint so that youths can work out their own relationship problems and improve their communication skills.

Tailoring the prevention message
Older adolescents increasingly are able to deal with abstract concepts such as truth and justice. Together with a more mature moral view of the world, which allows them to consider how individuals and their actions affect others' lives, this ability to think and reason in the abstract allows them to consider the economic costs of drug use; the results of teen- age pregnancy; the reasons for laws; and the impact of drugs on our health care, rehabilitation, and judicial systems. Drug prevention education consequently should focus less on drugs and their use as on the ways in which drugs affect society. Infusing drug prevention education throughout the curriculum is essential, and the entire school staff should be involved in presenting the drug prevention message.

Influences on learning
Adolescents face a great deal of stress from competing in school, learning how to handle relationships with other people, dealing with societal pressures, and planning for the future. Often, they are not prepared to cope with this stress, When they were younger and felt ill, a pill might have helped. Now the pill becomes alcohol, an illegal drug, or a relationship that does more harm than good. These inappropriate coping mechanisms cause more stress. Adults can help adolescents cope with stress by listening to them and by supervising outlets for stress through art, drama, music, and sports.

Facts about Alcohol and Other Drugs
Youths in grades 9-12 face much greater exposure to drugs than they had at earlier grades. Between the ages of 14 and 18, youths are exposed at school and through social activities and jobs to older people who may use ATOD. Although they may have made a conscious decision never to use drugs, they are still vulnerable, and the opportunities are ever present.

Concern about drug use
  Tobacco: 63 % of tenth graders reported having tried cigarettes, and 26% reported smoking within the previous month.
  Alcohol: 18% of tenth graders reported combining alcohol and drugs on one or more occasions within the previous month.
  Marijuana: 35% of tenth graders reported having tried marijuana; 56% of them reported first use by grade 8.
  Cocaine: 9% tried this drug, 3% used within the previous month, of those who had tried cocaine about 33% had tried crack.
  Inhalants: 21% of 8th/9th graders had tried inhalants, 6% of 10th graders reported use within the previous month.

Youth in grades 9-12 should
Know how to identify alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, cocaine, inhalants, hallucinogens, and stimulants in the various forms. Understand the long and short term effects of these drugs include addiction and death, use of alcohol and other drugs is illegal, experimenting with drugs is using drugs, know how drugs are pushed, know that tobacco in any form is unhealthy, and that wine coolers are illegal drugs.

Drug prevention education
Encourage open and frank discussion about concerns related to drugs and their use, focus on life skills such as problem solving, stress, healthy friendships and communicating with adults. Emphasize that most people, including the majority of people their own age, do not use drugs.



Working with Parents
 
Grades 9-12

Parent participation
Communicate often with your child, and ask periodically how your child is doing, thinking, and feeling. Share your life, including your feelings, with your child. Know where your child is and who they are with. Be aware of the signs of drug use, and watch for them in your child. Know the scientific and street name for drugs. Allow your home to be a supervised haven for youths, including your own, who have positive, healthy attitudes. Help your child set realistic short and long term goals. Respond promptly to any reports of problems or request for cooperation from the school concerning your child. Take pride in your child's achievements and let your child know that he or she is worthwhile.



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