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Hard Facts About Drugs


This program is designed to show how drug and alcohol use can have unwanted consequences for not only the user but also anyone who may come in contact with him or her.

• Summary of Content

This program uses the experiences of some members of a high school class to tell the facts about four drugs: alcohol, marijuana, cocaine and crack. As the video begins, the freshman class is filing into the auditorium for the class photo session. The ensuing scenes, which take place over the next four years, show members of the class experimenting with each of the four drugs, with disastrous results. Voice over narration supplies facts and figures about each drug and the scenes are played out. By graduation, six students are missing from the class photo.

• Hard Facts about Alcohol

When we first meet Marty, he’s suffering the after effects of drinking too much alcohol at a party earlier in the evening. Over coffee in a local restaurant, Marty’s friend Al breaks the news to him that Marty’s girlfriend was distressed by his behavior at the party, and subsequently left the party with another boy. Marty’s drinking sent his evening on a downhill slide full of consequences Marty has yet to comprehend.

Using visuals of a group of teens drinking and driving, the narrator notes the following: 1) Drinking alcohol affects all the important organs of the body: teens, whose bodies and minds are still developing, are even more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol. 2) Drunk driving is the number one killer of people in the 15 to 24-year-old range.

• Hard Facts about Marijuana

A friend who wants to introduce her to some of his other friends approaches Chris at school. Chris joins the group outside, and after the introductions someone lights up marijuana joint. At first, Chris is hesitant about smoking it. But under pressure from the group, soon agrees.

We next see Chris in her bedroom at home. She overhears her parents having a terrible argument, and she deals with it by smoking a joint. The narrator emphasizes that using marijuana doesn’t’ make problems go away. It hinders a person from learning how to deal with them.

The next scene opens in a restaurant where Chris is a waitress. Time has passed, and her drug use has increased, affecting her job performance. The narrator explains that marijuana use affects the powers of concentration, making everything from doing homework to driving a car difficult or nearly impossible.

Chris’s behavior has become very erratic, and she has made so many mistakes in her job that her boss fires her. This news doesn’t seem to bother Chris. She goes straight to the ladies’ room where the viewer can hear her snort cocaine. According to the narrator, marijuana is a gateway drug: nine out of ten cocaine users start with marijuana.

• Hard Facts about Cocaine

Virtually the entire length of this part of the program takes place in an ambulance en route to a hospital. A teenage boy, Kevin, has had a seizure due to an overdose of cocaine. While the viewer watches as the paramedics use every medical method available to try to save Kevin, an off-screen narrator describes how cocaine affects the user.

After cocaine enters the body, it reaches the heart, making blood pressure soar. Even young, healthy users can suffer a stroke, heart attack or epileptic seizure. When cocaine gets to the brain, it effects last 15 to 20 minutes. When the drug wears off, the user experiences depression and anxiety, the cocaine “crash.” As a person’s cocaine use increases, the “crashes” become worse. Since cocaine affects the central nervous system, which controls all body systems, coke can cause the kidneys, the lungs, and even the heart, to stop functioning.

• Hard Facts about Crack

As the camera reveals a disheveled bedroom an off-screen narrator describes crack as a concentrated form of cocaine that is almost instantly addictive. Many users turn to violence and crime in order to acquire the money needed to feed a crack addiction.

The camera finally reveals a young woman, Tina, awakening on the bed. Tina, a crack user, starts to speak aloud in the empty room. She has a feeling that there is something she is supposed to do, but she can’t remember what it is; she’s not even sure what day this is. As she gets out of bed she mumbles something about “getting off this stuff.”

Outside on the fire escape, Tina groggily continues her monologue. She remembers the first time she tried crack; how intense the high was; how strong the crash was; how she began smoking crack several times a day. She rejects the thought that she could be an addict. “It’s only been a few weeks”, she reasons. Tina says she can quit “anytime I want,” but the girl and her claims are not very convincing.

• Questions For Discussion and Review

1. List three reasons to say no to drinking alcohol. 2. How did marijuana use lead to Chris’s getting fired from her job? 3. Why is marijuana called a “gateway drug”? 4. How can cocaine prove fatal with just one use? 5. What is the “cocaine crash”? 6. Dealers often add certain substances to cocaine to increase volume and profits. Name three of these substances. 7. What is crack? What is another name for crack? 8. How does a crash from crack use compare to a cocaine crash? How does the crash contribute to a crack addiction? 9. Why is crack addiction associated with violent, often criminal behavior?

• Related Activities

1. Invite one or more of the following people who can speak to the class about—respectively—the physical, psychological, legal, and personal aspects of drug use: a doctor, a drug counselor, a law enforcement officer, a recovering alcoholic or former drug addict. 2. If it is possible to obtain video equipment, have students write and produce their own anti-drug public service announcement. Look into the possibility of airing their production on local television. 3. Have each student bring in a recent newspaper or magazine article on the subject of drugs or alcohol. The articles can focus on a sociological, criminal, legislative or medical aspect of the drug. Have students share their articles with the class and discuss. 4. Have students create a variety of anti-drug posters. Hang the posters in high-traffic areas of the school, such as the cafeteria, gym/locker room and hallways. 5. As a group project, the class can compile a list of hotlines, treatment programs, counselors, and agencies that help with the problem of drug abuse. The class can produce a handbook for school circulation listing the organizations, with brief descriptions of their services. Another alternative is to publish the list in an edition of the school newspaper. 6. Encourage students to get involved in anti-drug programs in the community. Some suggestions are: a) training to work on a drug-crisis hotline; b) joining or establishing a chapter of S.A.D.D. (Students Against Driving Drunk); c) enrolling in a program for Emergency Medical Technician certification and volunteering for the local ambulance corps. 7. Lead a class discussion on drug abuse prevention. What do members of the class think is the best way to solve the drug problem? Is it education? How early should drug education begin? Is it stricter penalties for drug dealers and traffikers? Should we expand the role of the military in stopping the flow of drug traffic? Have students brainstorm ideas of their own. Alternatively, each student can write an essay on how to deal with American’s drug crisis.