The focus of this activity will be presenting a concise decision-making model and explaining how it works in detail so that students can apply it in the activities of the next learning theme.

  1. Explain to the class that all of us make decisions and choices all the time. We aren't always aware of this, and we don't always put a lot of thought into it. Decisions have consequences. When it comes to making decisions about alcohol and other drugs, the consequences may not always be what we anticipate. These are decisions that we need to be aware of as we are making them. What we will do next is look at one way of thinking about the decisions we face about alcohol and other drugs.

  2. Hand out copies of Student Handout 7.D WHOA! to each student.5 Using the WHOA! Slide (7.B), present the four-part WHOA! decision-making model as follows:

    • Wait. No matter how urgent or important something seems, put on the brakes. Stop and think about what is happening and the risks involved before you decide what to do, not after. This may be an important decision. Slow down and give it the thought it deserves.
    • Have a Brain. Identify the thoughts, pressures, and emotions at work when you are put on the spot about drinking or using other drugs. Understanding the influences at work may help you see beyond the present moment. Think about the problem, conflict, or dilemma and define it in one sentence.
    • Options. Consider the options for solving the problem. There are always at least three options-accept, decline, or defer-and they each have pros and cons. Think about what might happen with each option considered.
    • Action. Pick the option that best fits with your personal goals and take the action that will get you there.

  3. Invite student comments and feedback on the model to make sure they understand it.

5. The WHOA! model of decision-making is from the resource, Own Your Zone (2002), and is used with the permission of the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission.