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Drug and alcohol education

Drug and alcohol education are important components of PSHE and contribute to safeguarding children and young people from the potential harms associated with their misuse.

The Institute for Alcohol Studies has produced an interesting and useful factsheet summarising  major trends around underage alcohol consumption, analysing its prevalence, how it varies by sociodemographic group, and how these have changed over time. It also looks at the drinking behaviours of underage drinkers – how much they drink, what they drink, how they access it, where they drink, and who they drink with. The evidence on the health and social impact of drinking in childhood and young adulthood are reviewed, including neurological risks, development problems, risky sexual behaviour, crime, injury and violence and educational outcomes. The information contained within the factsheet could be used with parents, staff and young people.

The latest advice from Government is the 2012 Department for Education and ACPO Drug Advice for Schools (link opens in a new tab or page). Schools are advised that as a minimum, there should be:

  • early access to support for pupils with drug or alcohol issues (or affected by family use);
  • a written drugs policy available to all staff; and
  • a senior member of staff with responsibility for policy and liaising with the local police and support services.

It is also made clear that a school’s response to drugs and alcohol is most effective when:

  • it is supported by the whole school community;
  • drug education is part of a well-planned programme of PSHE education delivered in a supportive environment, where pupils are aware of the school rules, feel able to engage in open discussion and feel confident about asking for help if necessary; and
  • staff have access to high quality training and support.

Additional information can be found on the Parental alcohol and drug misuse page.

This report from the Alcohol and Drug Foundation (Australia) provides an interesting insight into why people take drugs.

Useful links and websites


Creating and reviewing your policy (link opens in a new tab or page)

Quality standards for effective drug education (link opens in a new tab or page)

Questions for governors (link opens in a new tab or page) to ask about policy and practice

Engaging parents in drug education (link opens in a new tab or page)

Specific advice for schools on policies regarding volatile substances (link opens in a new tab or page)

Teaching and learning

Principles of good drug education (link opens in a new tab or page)

Support with needs assessment (link opens in a new tab or page) when planning a programme of drug & alcohol education

Advice on delivering culturally sensitive drug education (link opens in a new tab or page)


Mentor-Adepis (link opens in a new tab or page) provide support and advice on all aspects of drug and alcohol education including factsheets (link opens in a new tab or page) on specific issues/drugs.

Mentor-Adepis have developed a series of lesson plans which aim to provide a specific but flexible pathway to enable children to consider ways to develop resilience, reducing risk-taking and considering safer options. There are lessons for both key stages 2 and 3.

Mentor-Adepis  have updated their resources giving an overview of drug use data for young people and tips for effective school-based drug education:  Smoking, drinking and drug use trends among young people in England .

The Alcohol Education Trust have launched an ‘On-line Learning Zone’. The site is primarily aimed at Year 9 but has varying levels of activities suitable for Years 7 to 10 and is designed to appeal to young people in its look and feel. The Learning Zone allows pupils to extend their knowledge and understanding of alcohol through games such as the Alcohol Clock game and Brave the Rave, and the quizzes Test Your Knowledge and Fact or Fiction.

Facts and information about drugs – Frank (link opens in a new tab or page)

In the light of changes to the law around synthetic cannabinoids, the West Midlands Police have issued a statement about Spice-and-Mamba which could be shared with school communities.

Alcohol and first aid (link opens in a new tab or page) – lesson plan from the Red Cross

BBC Bitesize Key Stage 2 Alcohol clips (link opens in a new tab or page)

Keeping Safe Out and About: Year 6 (link opens in a new tab or page). These lesson plans have been written for teachers in primary schools who want to teach about the risks of participating in anti-social behaviour, gangs and gang related behaviour and keeping safe in the local area. Opportunities are also provided for learning linked to drugs and alcohol.

Information about alcohol including useful suggestions for parents when talking to their children about the issue  – Drinkaware (link opens in a new tab or page)

The following report provides an insight into the adolescent brain and alcohol: Alcohol and the Developing Adolescent Brain: Evidence Review (link opens in a new tab or page)

The short film ‘Nuggets’ (link opens in a new tab or page) shows in a simple but powerful way, how someone might try substances then move on to continue to use and the potential consequences. It is most appropriate for use with secondary age pupils.

Newsround have made a special programme about Living With Alcohol (link opens in a new tab or page) which tells the stories of three young people affected in different ways by their parents’ drinking.

Australian researchers have worked with local high school students to create a unique interactive drug education game for teenagers. Called Pure Rush (link opens in a new tab or page), the game is targeted at students in Years 8 to 10 and aims to inform adolescents about the potential harms of cannabis, methamphetamine, hallucinogens and pills such as ecstasy. The aim of the game is to avoid (jump over) illicit drugs to reach a music festival in as fast a time as possible.

Public Health England have produced a new website called Rise Above (link opens in a new tab or page) for young people where they can find inspiring and useful stories, videos, games and advice. Includes issues around drug and alcohol use.

The attached series of lessons were developed to support teaching and learning about alcohol in key stage 1. It is important that their use is consistent with a school’s agreed policy relating to drug and alcohol education. The lessons will need to be adapted according to the maturity and experiences of the children.]]>