For Schools




print header

Drugs and Alcohol


Attitudes about drugs and alcohol are initially formed in the home, and are later strongly influenced by teachers and peers. Research demonstrates delayed onset of drug and alcohol use is vital to healthy brain development and good mental health. In addition, students who use drugs or alcohol before age 14 are more likely to develop drug dependence issues at some point later in their lives, compared to those starting after 21 years. According to the literature, early drug and alcohol prevention ideally begins just prior to the average age of onset of use; which is widely supported to be between Grade 7 and 9.

Check out Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey

Lesson Plans

  • iTHINK – A Critical Thinking & Media Literacy Manual (PDF) – Suggested for Grades 1 to 12. This manual contains a variety of teaching tools to engage students to think critically about the world around them in order to support healthy decision-making, and mitigate the influence of media marketing related to a number of health-related topics, e.g. drugs and alcohol.  The manual contains grade specific lesson plans which have been designed to meet Ontario curriculum expectations (Elementary Arts, Language, and Health and Physical Education). Interactive resources, such as video clips, quizzes, case studies, are also included to support classroom teaching and student learning. (Central East Tobacco Control Area Network (TCAN) and Peterborough County City Health Unit).
  • Ophea:  H&PE Curriculum Resources – For Grades 1 to 8. These curriculum resources are available to subscribing School Boards across Ontario through a password protected website. The resources are organized into two main sections that are consistent with the 2015 H&PE Curriculum:  Movement Competence & Active Living, and Healthy Living. Talk to your school’s Health and Physical Education Lead or Curriculum Consultant to find out if your School Board subscribes.

Curriculum Supports

SMDHU Programs

  • Race Against Drugs:  Drug and Alcohol Awareness Events – For Grade 5. The RACE (Respect, Action, Courage, and Excellence) has been designed to deliberately reflect the character values and curriculum taught within the Simcoe County and District of Muskoka School Boards.  This drug education initiative utilizes the sport of auto racing to capture the attention of students and communicate with them as they move through a series of “pit stops”, facilitated by public health and community partners, to learn key messages about the importance of a drug and alcohol free lifestyle.

The health unit also offers a variety of programs and services for elementary schools (PDF) covering a wide range of health-related topics.

Additional Resources

  • The Art of Motivation is a tool that teachers can use to communicate with students about challenging issues, to help students explore making positive changes to their behaviour, including their use of alcohol, drugs, and substance abuse. (Centre for Addictions Research of British Columbia (CARBC)).
  • Online Learning for the Effects of Cannabis Use during Adolescence (Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse) – This online learning module brings together the best, most current research and identifies what we know, what we don’t know and what is emerging on the issue of youth cannabis use. 
  • Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey (OSDUHS) – Conducted by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) every two years, with students from Grades 7 to 12.
  • What’s With Weed - Interactive Website for Youth – Uses a harm-reduction approach to help youth recognize and reduce problematic marijuana use. While it does include and support abstinence in the range of strategies, it does not demand it. Instead the site is designed following a stages-of-change model to encourage users who haven’t previously thought about, or are starting to think about, quitting their use of marijuana towards action to avoid, reduce or prevent problematic marijuana use. This site is a Canadian educational resource developed with young people in Ontario who are both marijuana users and non-users, in partnership with drug education specialists, drug treatment counselors and researchers with funding from Health Canada.

Also, be sure to visit the Drugs and Alcohol section of the health unit’s website for more information related to alcohol, marijuana, prescription and other drugs.

Are you concerned about a student and/or would like additional information related to counselling or community supports? Find out where to get help. 

Staff at the health unit are currently reviewing recommended lesson plans and curriculum supports for educators to align with Ontario’s 2015 Health and Physical Education Curriculum. Please use your discretion in determining which lesson plans and curriculum supports to use in your classroom. Updated and new resources will be posted online as available. 


Did you find what you were looking for?
What did you like about this page?
How can we improve this page?

If you have any questions or concerns that require a response, please contact Health Connection directly.

Thanks for your feedback.
Failed to submit comment. Please try submitting again or contact us at the Health Unit.
Comment already submitted ...