This unit will give students the ability to take responsibility for their own learning and well being at a critical time in their lives. Students are beginning to question themselves and having the approval of their peers seems to be most important. Students at this age often make decisions based on how it will affect their friendships rather than thinking about the consequences of their actions on their lives. Too often, teachers and parents simply tell students to say no to drugs and tell that stimulants like caffeine, alcohol and nicotine are bad for them. Students however receive mixed messages when they see adults around them smoking and drinking and partaking in bad habits. This can cause them to think that it can't be that bad if others are doing it and it doesn't appear as though anything bad is happening to them. This unit will teach students why they should "Just Say No!" when faced with peer pressure. It is not often that students will blindly do as their parents and teachers say unless they can see and experience its applicability to them and their world. Students will understand why their parents tell them to stay away from stimulants like caffeine, drugs, alcohol and nicotine. Understanding the "why" often is what will sway students to make positive choices when faced with peer pressure. Students need to take more responsibility in their decisions and in their learning. Students will formulate a better understanding of how the brain works as well as what stimulants may affect their learning negatively. Students will also learn about addiction and how it attacks a brain like a disease. Students will get to know the functions of the brain and how they can take responsibility for keeping it healthy in order to be better learners, promote healthy lifestyles and make informed decisions. As a result, students will make smarter decisions because they learned that the brain is the control center of their body, which is directly affected by their actions.
Our brain not only tells us who we are, what we are doing and what we have done, but it also controls critical body functions like heart rate, breathing and blood pressure. Drugs strongly affect these functions that are critical to our survival. The human brain is a complex structure with thousands of different sites for drug action on just as many different kinds of nerve cells. Because of its complexity, different people have different experiences with the same drug. The central nervous system has a great capacity to change in response to experiences like learning and memory. Change in response to experience and influence in known as "plasticity". Plasticity can be modified by chemicals whether taken for medical benefit or for recreational purposes. This unit will address these differences and allow students to understand basic brain functions and the changes that occur when stimulants or sedatives are used and abused.