Drug Abuse and AddictionBeautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's AddictionGrades 9-10

Drug abuse is a very relevant topic in the lives of young adults. During the first years of high school, students are introduced to peer pressure regarding drugs and alcohol. A unit about the effects of drug abuse during the beginning of their high school career would be beneficial for students to learn more about this important topic that can have many detrimental effects. Students will be more aware of the effects drug abuse can have.

About The Book

Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction is a memoir written by David Sheff, explaining his experience and hardships with his son, Nic's, addiction to drugs. David takes the reader on the journey following Nic through his childhood to his young adult years. Nic's family is affected by his drug use by Nic stealing from them and his younger siblings having to experience Nic being arrested in front of them. Nic's drug use is documented, as well as his attempts towards recovery. As a father, David feels as if he is to blame and has to cope with the fact that he may not be able to help as much as he wishes he could.

By reading and studying this memoir, students are able to see the effects that drug abuse can have on not only the drug user, but also on the people around them. Students are able to see how challenging and stressful drug addictions are from the point of view of a loved one.

Nic Sheff, the drug addict that David Sheff writes about, also wrote a memoir at the same time as his father, titled Tweak: Growing Up On Methamphetamines. This book explains the point of view of the drug user himself. Passages will be read from this book to be able to compare the different points of view and the different effects drug use can have on not only the user, but on society as well. This other reading allows students to study different perspectives on the topic of drug addiction.


Along with books, recovered drug addict speakers will come into the classroom. They will explain the struggles they encountered with their addictions from the beginning to the end.

Teen Drug Abuse
This website offers statistics and information about substance abuse

The National Institute on Drug Abuse offers the latest scientific facts and resources for patients, parents, and families experiencing drug abuse

Students will also research other YouTube videos of ex-drug users.

This unit may cause controversy due to the discussions about the causes of drug abuse and addiction, especially if students know someone close to them who is experiencing drug addiction. Students will be required to respect all ideas and opinions.

My goal for this unit is for students to take action by discovering different resources for drug abusers to get help and for them to realize that drug addiction is completely preventable and to share the harsh effects it can have on the drug user and on society. I also wish for students to feel comfortable speaking about drug addiction.
Students will write journals while they read. If given no specific prompt, they will be asked to write about their initial thoughts, questions, and any ideas for class discussion. Students will also participate in an online blog where they will answer questions that will require critical thinking and connections to society and other themes.

This unit will require students to develop opinions and perspectives based on one topic. They will use several texts to analyze the effects and topic of drug abuse in order to relate it to their lives and society.
For students with lower reading abilities or visual impairments, an audiobook will be made available. ELL students will have the opportunity to use subtitles in online videos and if they are stronger at listening in English than in writing, they will be able to use the audiobook as well. ELL students can also be provided with visual aids and group work will be done in students with varying English proficiency levels.

Grading Breakdown

Discussion and Participation: 30 Points
Journal: 50 Points
Blog: 50 Points
Final Project and Presentation: 120 Points

Options for Final Project
Write a research paper about drug addiction and abuse, including preventions, statistics, and resources
Develop a program that provides resources and help for drug addicts
Write a journal from the point of view of the family member of a drug addict
Create a website for drug addicts to visit that provides information and resources
Create and videotape a PSA regarding the dangers of drug abuse

(Students will be required to include Beautiful Boy and two other texts in their final projects)

Week Breakdown

Day 1: Class will be introduced to the topic of drug abuse and the book, Beautiful Boy. They will research the author and complete the "K" and "W' portion of their "KWL" charts. (Homework: Reading of Beautiful Boy, journal, and blog post)

Days 2-4: Beautiful Boy will be discussed as whole class. Students will then split into groups to discuss the questions they have formed in their journals. (Homework: Reading of Beautiful Boy, journal, and blog post)

Day 5: Students will be provided with laptops to split into groups and research different resources that are provided for drug abusers. Groups will give mini-presentations based on their chosen resource. (Homework: Reading of Beautiful Boy, journal)

Day 6: The final project and choices will be introduced. Students will have class time to brainstorm ideas for their projects and to research other texts to use. (articles, websites, books, etc) (Homework: Reading of Beautiful Boy, journal of questions to ask ex-drug addict, blog post, project)

Day 7: Ex-drug addict guest speaker will visit the classroom to explain their struggles and experiences. Students will ask questions to form discussion. (Homework: Reading of Beautiful Boy, guest speaker reflection, journal, project)
Day 8: Class will continue discussion about guest speaker. Class will participate in activity about perspective. (Homework: Reading of Beautiful Boy, journal, watch video of David and Nic Sheff, project)
Day 9: Students will be provided with laptops to research websites and videos on the Internet. Students will create an annotated bibliography of useful web resources. (Blog post, project, find current event article about drug abuse)

Day 10: Students will get into groups to discuss their current event article they found. Students will relate this article to Beautiful Boy and to other social issues it contains. (Homework: Read excerpts from Tweak, journal comparing and contrasting Beautiful Boy and Tweak, project)

Day 11: Students will discuss the similarities and differences between Beautiful Boy and Tweak. Students will relate this to our activity about perspective. Students will do in-class writing of a different perspective related to the characters in Beautiful Boy and Tweak (Homework: Blog post, project)

Day 12: Students will be provided with laptops and will have the class time to work on their projects and ask any questions they may have (Homework: Project)
Day 13: Students will peer edit their projects by filling out a peer edit worksheet. Students will have the class time to revise projects. Students can start finding YouTube videos of ex-drug users to share to class (Homework: Blog post, find video to share, project)

Day 14: Students will share their videos with the class. The class will discuss these videos and common similarities found between them. (Homework: Project)

Day 15: Students will present their projects to the class. The class will have a final discussion about the topic of drug abuse and what they will do with the new information they have learned. Students will complete the "L" portion of their "KWL" charts.

Perspective Activity Lesson Plan

Overview: Students in grades 9-12 will analyze the importance of perspective while reading and writing a text.

Goals: Students will be able to understand how perspective changes texts and will be able to use this new understanding to compare the perspectives between Beautiful Boy and Tweak


Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Materials: Beautiful Boy

1. Students will be split up into pairs.
2. Each pair will be given two specific passages from Beautiful Boy
3. After reading the first passage, both students will choose another point of view that the passage could be written from (Ex: drug addict, drug addict's child, rehab center employee).
4. Without telling their partner, students will rewrite the passage from their chosen point of view.
5. After done rewriting, students will share their rewrite with their partners and the partners will guess and discuss which point of view the passage is now written from.
6. After reading the second passage, students will choose another type of reader/audience who could be reading the passage (Ex: drug addict, ex-drug addict, senior citizen)
7. Students will reread the passage, imagining that they are their chosen reader/audience.
8. Students will write in their journal about their thoughts on the passage based on who they are pretending to be.

Accommodations: Students can finish for homework if needed

Assessment: Students will turn their rewrites and journals into me. I will be listening to discussion between pairs for how they chose to rewrite their passages to change perspective.

Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze in detail its development over the course of the text, including how it emerges and is shaped and refined by specific details; provide an objective summary of the text.

Analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums (e.g., a person’s life story in both print and multimedia), determining which details are emphasized in each account.

Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.

Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9-10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

Carli Polidori