Investigating the Heroin and Prescription Opioid Epidemic

This Investigating the Heroin and Prescription Opioid Epidemic lesson plan also includes:

How bad is the opioid crisis in America? Has it gotten worse in the last few decades? Why? High schoolers delve into these questions with a thorough and thoughtful activity from The New York Times on heroin prescription opioids. Starting with a short video about a young mother and her history of opioid addiction, including four overdoses, the activity guides learners through an investigation of the magnitude of the current opioid epidemic in all 50 states of America.

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CCSS: Adaptable
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Instructional Ideas
  • Incorporate into a larger research unit about drug abuse in America, the international drug industry, or the growing prevalence of prescription drugs
  • Design a cross-curricular unit between health, language arts, social studies, math, and science to discuss all aspects of the opioid crisis
Classroom Considerations
  • Lesson cautions that because it addresses sensitive topics, teachers should preview before showing in class or sharing with students
  • Does not include closed captions
  • Interactive resource at the beginning of the lesson requires access to individual computers or tablets, a Smart Board, or the ability to project a teacher computer display onto the board
  • Provides links to the unabridged versions of the articles as well as a PDF for abridged versions
  • Extension activities include a look at the historical war on drugs, research on potential treatment options, and a closer examination of the origins of opium
  • None