This material is from the teaching guide
for the video DRUGS & ALCOHOL – Part 1
in the 12-part DVD series THE POWER OF CHOICE

More than four-and-a-half million American teenagers have been identified as problem drinkers, and many more have relatives or friends who are. Half of the high school seniors have experience with marijuana, and 17 percent have tried cocaine. Meanwhile, the entire world is caught up in a drug battle that rages from the heads of state to the family living room. How are kids growing up in such a chaotic environment supposed to know what to do when the opportunity presents itself to experiment for themselves?

In this program, host Michael Pritchard encourages teenagers to come to grips with the question of what to do when “just say no” and “just say yes” just won’t do. Students from high schools in Atlanta and Albuquerque talk openly and honestly about the choices (good and bad) they have made with alcohol and drug use. As one teenager relates, “I look back, it felt good then. Now I could cry. Once it wore off, I had to face myself again.”


  1. To stimulate teens to think critically about their choices involving drugs and alcohol.
  2. To help them see that they have the power to make those choices for themselves, regardless of any social pressures they may feel.
  3. To make them aware of how drugs and alcohol can take over their power of choice and reduce the amount of control they have over their own lives.

This material is from the teaching guide
for the video Drugs & Alcohol – Part 1
in the 12-part DVD series THE POWER OF CHOICE



1. What’s wrong with taking drugs?

2. At what age is it okay to drink? Why does age matter? Questions to ask after showing the video.

3. Who in this video did you most agree with? Who did you most disagree with? Why?

4. What are the reasons that people you know drink or take drugs? Are the reasons for drinking any different from the reasons for taking drugs?

5. Have any of you noticed a connection between drug or alcohol abuse and self-esteem? Explain.

6. Think of someone you know who has gotten heavily into drugs or alcohol. Have you noticed any change in that person’s values? In his or her choice of friends? In any of the other choices that person makes?

7. Suppose you’re at a party and somebody offers you a drug. How can you be sure it is what they say it is? How can you be sure it’s not “cut” with something dangerous?

8. The brunette who took a morphine based pain killer every day until her bottle ran out says that she feels much better when she is sober. Why, then, does she still want to take
this drug? Is she addicted? (See next question for help with this.)

9. What is addiction?

TIP: This question often triggers a hot debate. A definition which is popular among treatment professionals is that a person is addicted if he or she is a compulsive user, cannot reliably control his or her use, and continues using despite negative consequences.

10. Is alcohol harmful only to those who might become alcoholics? Are other drugs harmful only to those who might become addicted to them?

11. At least one person in the video talked about a “natural high.” What does that mean? How do you get one? Is it an alternative to intoxication with alcohol or drugs? Is it preferable? Explain why.

12. Which of these is less addictive, less intoxicating, or less harmful: beer, wine, hard liquor, or wine coolers?

TIP: Alcohol is alcohol. You’ll get the same amount of alcohol in a 12 oz. can of beer, a 4 oz. serving of wine, or a shot of whiskey. A bottle of wine cooler contains more alcohol than any of these.


1. Team up with one or two of your classmates and attend a young people’s meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Then, write an account of your experience, giving your observations and what you learned. Present this as an oral report to your class. Note: You do not have to be an alcoholic to attend an open meeting of AA – visitors are welcome. To find out the time and place of an appropriate meeting, look up Alcoholics Anonymous in the yellow pages.

2. When people become dependent on drugs or alcohol they usually deny it to themselves and everybody else until some event makes it impossible to ignore. Do some research on denial and write an essay or dramatic scene which illustrates it. You’ll find the subject of denial in almost any book on alcoholism or drug addiction. If you or someone you care about is involved with drugs or alcohol, there are several organizations you can call for immediate help: Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and Cocaine Anonymous are self-help organizations for people with alcohol or drug dependencies. Al-Anon and its junior division, Alateen, are for people who are affected by another person’s drug or alcohol use. To find out more about these organizations, give them a call. They’re listed in the yellow pages under “Alcoholism” or “Drug Abuse.”

This material is from the teaching guide
for the video Drugs & Alcohol – Part 1
in the 12-part DVD series THE POWER OF CHOICE



1. Invite a speaker from Alcoholics Anonymous to come to your classroom for a question and answer session. AA is a nationwide fellowship whose members help each other get sober, stay sober, and work out healthful patterns of living. You’ll find them in the yellow pages under “Alcoholism.”

2. When people become dependent on drugs or alcohol they usually don’t realize what’s happening until late in the game. Make a checklist of warning signs for drug or alcohol dependency. You can get help with this from your local alcoholism information center

3. Brainstorm ways to have a great party without alcohol or drugs. Figure out ways to make it attractive to people who usually get high at parties.

4. Brainstorm ways to refuse an offer of drugs or alcohol and still be cool. Role-play scenes in which a person at a party refuses such an offer. Then, evaluate the way he or she handled it. Was the style of refusal convincing? Could it be improved on?

For an enlightening look at what to do when someone you care about is hooked, see Drugs and Alcohol – Part 2, program #6 in THE POWER OF CHOICE series.

“DRUGS & ALCOHOL – Part 1” – The Video

In this program, comedian/youth counselor Michael Pritchard, talks with students in Philadelphia, Atlanta, Cleveland, and Minneapolis, to discover how our values can guide us in making choices that are right for us. Learn more . . .

Buy This Video
The Series

The Power of Choice with Michael Pritchard is a 12-volume youth guidance video series aimed at empowering teenagers to make good choices in their lives. It teaches young people that they have the power of choice, that they are responsible for the choices they make, and that they owe it to themselves to choose the best.
Learn more . . .


Buy This Series

For more information about individual videos in this series, click on the title below.

If your school or organization does not have these videos, you can purchase them from Live Wire Media, or request them from your local library.


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