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Lesson 8

Title: About Alcohol

Grade: Fifth Grade
Time: One hour

Learning Outcomes:

  • The student will identify and describe in a role-playing scenario, the short-term and long-term effects of alcohol on the body.
  • The student will illustrate how the body systems are affected by alcohol
  • The student will describe the characteristics of problem drinkers and identify common problems caused by alcohol in a role-playing scenario.


  • Display pictures from magazines or brochures that illustrate the use and effects of alcohol. Write the word "ALCOHOL" above the pictures. Ask the students to describe the appearance of the people, and what they are doing.
  • Ask students to interpret the message displayed in each picture. Ask if they feel the picture tells the whole story. Engage in a brief group discussion.
  • Ask students to recall the definition of a drug. (Anything substance, other than food or water, that causes changes in the body.) Explain that alcohol is a drug. Ask them if it is legal for them to buy or use this drug. Encourage them to explain why they think laws have been created to ban the sale of this drug to young people. Explain that in this lesson they will learn about the harmful effects of alcohol.
  • Explain that: most people have to make decisions about this and other drugs someday. Knowing the facts can help them make wise choices. A decision not to use alcohol can help them stay healthy. Knowing how to say no can help them feel good about themselves.
  • Define alcohol as a drug found in drinks such as beer, wine, and whiskey. ¬†Explain the following information:
    • Because alcohol is a drug it can cause changes in people who drink it.
    • The more alcohol they drink the more changes take place.
    • Each of the changes is harmful to them.
  • Define the short- term effects of alcohol as the first physical changes that take place in a person who drinks alcohol. List the effects and have the students copy them as follows:
    • most alcohol goes to the stomach-it passes through the stomach wall very quickly
    • most of the alcohol goes from the stomach and the small intestine into the circulatory system
    • the alcohol mixes with the blood and travels to all parts of the body
    • the more alcohol that travels through the body the more harm it causes
    • the alcohol can irritate the stomach so much that it can cause a person to vomit
    • alcohol affects parts of the brain that controls speech, judgment, attention, and personality
    • alcohol can cause a person to act in ways they never would if they had not been drinking
    • it weakens their ability to judge what is dangerous or harmful
    • many times they regret what they have done later
    • they may say things to their friends that cause them to become angry with them
    • it weakens the part of the brain that controls muscle movement therefore they bump into things
    • they may not be able to focus their eyes
  • As the alcohol collects in their body they become intoxicated (strongly affected by alcohol), they may pass out. It takes less alcohol to cause these changes in a smaller person. The danger is therefore greater in a younger person.
  • Define depressant (a substance that slows down the whole body, especially the nervous system). Explain that alcohol is a depressant, not something that makes a person more alert as some people think.
  • Define long-term effects - a physical change in a person that lasts for a long period of time and may cause serious harm to parts of the body.
    • Alcohol can damage the brain and other parts of the nervous system. They will not be able to make wise decisions.
    • They may often act as if they are angry with others. In reality, they are really angry with themselves.
    • They may not be able to make their muscles work properly.
    • Their hands may shake.
    • Alcohol can harm the liver. The liver makes chemicals that stop bleeding; it stores nutrients that body needs; it cleans your blood.
    • Alcohol can cause the liver to work too hard. It changes the way the nutrients are broken down. It can even damage the tissue that makes the liver.
    • Damage to the liver tissue is called cirrhosis. It cannot be fixed.
  • Problem Drinking is the use of alcohol in ways that cause physical, social, or legal problems.
    • They cause trouble for themselves when they get into fights.
    • They get into fights and cause trouble for themselves.
    • They do not think about their choices.
    • They embarrass themselves, their children and family.
    • They can cause accidents where other people are hurt.
    • They do not take responsibility for their problem.
  • Ask children to describe problems they know when a person drinks too much alcohol.
  • Guide the discussion to the condition in which a person needs alcohol or believes he or she
  • Discuss alcoholism (the disease of not being able to stop using alcohol).
  • State that the people who have the disease are called alcoholics.
  • When alcoholics stop drinking, it causes painful physical symptoms. (withdrawal)
  • Children will be divided into groups of four. They will be told to create a situation they feel could happen with a friend, a family member, a sibling etc. In this situation, they are find the opportunity to share the information learned today and present it to the class in the form of role-playing scenarios.
  • Pass out the diagrams of the body with the instructions that they are to label the body parts that alcohol effect, and briefly describe its effect on each part. As each group finishes their plan for their presentation they may work on their labeling. What is not finished in class is to be done at home.


  • Pictures from magazines or brochures depicting the use and effects of alcohol.
  • Notebooks, pencils, coloring markers
  • Copy of the body with organs affected by alcohol included.


The body illustrations the children label and briefly describe will show their understanding of the physiological effects of alcohol on the body.

The information the children share during their role-playing will show an understanding of the concepts presented in this lesson.