Addiction: the Highs and Lows

In today’s classroom, it’s essential to find creative and engaging ways to capture the attention and interest of students. By using a diverse range of pedagogical techniques, we can not only hold the attention of our students but also help them retain information and develop a deeper understanding of the topic at hand. This is particularly true when it comes to educating students on important health topics.

This blog post comes to you from Shelby Hosmer, (her first ever blog post) and shares her experience in creating a board game to help teach her health students about drug use, self-medicating, detoxification and overdose.

I love games.  Who doesn’t love a good game? I teach both health and PE at a Pre-K-12 building.  This year I teach grades 1-12 PE, grade 7 health and grade 10 health.  It is super fun and super exhausting at the same time.  I incorporate a game of some sort into most of our health classes.  Some days it is jenga to review, other days we make a list of harmful substances and the first team to 15 wins.  

I started following teachers on twitter this year from outside of the health and PE world.  The idea for Addiction: The Highs and the Lows came from Jonny Hemphill @worcesterjonny.  Jonny is a history teacher that creates some seriously cool lessons.  

Addiction: The Highs and the Lows is a simple dice game based on the ups and downs of a person who uses, misuses, and abuses harmful substances.  The game board incorporates functional knowledge of harmful substances including a description of terms such as self-medicating, detoxification and overdose. If students land on an “Addiction Story” square they pick up a card, read it to their group and record what happened to their character.  I encourage groups to take their time and read and discuss the scenarios.  The addiction story cards include scenarios related to substance use. The scenarios range from a suspension from school due to vaping to being charged with vehicular manslaughter.  There are positive scenarios as well such as checking yourself into a residential treatment facility.  As students travel around the board they record what happens to their character during their addiction journey.  Play continues- some students may go around more than once depending on the size of the group playing.  We play for about 25 minutes. Students then reflect on their character’s experiences and write about what their future might hold. 

My favorite aspect of this lesson, as it is the highlight of the majority of our health classes, was the discussion we were able to have at the conclusion of the game.  Students had a solid grasp on the content, and a basic understanding that addiction is different for everyone. The biggest win of all? Every student was engaged.  

Link to make a copy.   I always leave my materials editable.

I’m thankful to Shelby for sharing her creation, and reflection on how successful this activity was in her classroom. The topics taught, and the language used in classrooms may differ, but creative and engaging teaching should be available to all students. If you have a similar success story to share from your classroom, please consider sharing it with the readers of slowchathealth.

Do You Need Someone to Talk to Right Now?

National Hotline and Online Chat

The Partnership to End Addiction has trained professionals available via phone (1-855-378-4373), text message (TEXT 55753or email to help parents who think their loved one is struggling with addiction. Learn more. 

Substance Use Resources For Adolescents and Young Adults

Other blog posts to feature game creations from the health classroom include:

The Phone Game – embracing the use of cell phones in a creative way.

Story Cubes – a health class adaptation of Rory’s Story Cubes.

Dimensions of Wellness – a card game to deepen your students knowledge of the dimensions of wellness.

STI Dice Game – hugely popular blog post from Andy Horne.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s