Begin the session by stating that some families have established clear rules around alcohol and other drugs. Although they may vary depending on age, these rules can apply to adults, youth, and children. These rules may even extend to guests.

  1. Ask the students to spend a few minutes writing down the rules on alcohol and other drugs that exist in their own families. Ask them to make sure they include things that they are allowed to do as well as the things they are not allowed to (e.g., have a drink with the adults at special family celebrations; attend a party as long as they call home for a drive if there is no “safe” driver available at the party).

  2. Some students may come from households where, for a variety of reasons, there are no rules or they do not know them. Try to avoid singling students out by requiring everyone to provide verbal answers. Add the phrase “or write down what you think the rules should be” to the previous directions to take these students into account.

  3. Ask the students to share their rules they have written down and record them on the board or on flip chart paper. You can anticipate a wide range of items such as
    • No drinking anything at any time, no exceptions.
    • Can have the occasional drink on special family occasions.
    • No illicit drugs ever (cannabis may be singled out).
    • Call us to come get you if you are in a situation where no one is sober enough to drive home, no matter what you have been doing.
    • If you want to try a drug, bring it home and try it here.
      [Watch for examples of rules that restrict behaviour, and rules that seem to be trying to keep teens safe, no matter how they may sound.]

  4. Ask the students to share the consequences of breaking the rules in their family. Ask if they think the consequences fit the circumstance or should they be different?

  5. When you have a complete list, lead a class discussion around the rules by having them complete the following statements:
    • I think my family’s rules about alcohol and other drugs are __________
    • Family rules about alcohol and other drugs are useful because __________
    • Families make rules about alcohol because __________
      The final statement should include a response that the family rules are made to keep everyone safe. If no one points this out, mention it to the class: “The use of alcohol and other drugs always carries some risk with it. Many families make rules to try to keep their children safe and out of harm’s way.”

2. Numerous parent and teen drug education resources and programs include the identification of family rules as an activity. The activity included here was inspired by the Australia Department of Education, Training and Employment’s resources from 2000, Drug Education R-12. Teacher Support Package. The Middle Years.