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Teens and Drugs

The number of young people in Britain who take drugs has fallen considerably. In London in 1996, almost 30% of 16-19 year olds said they sometimes took drugs. In 2013, less than 20% of young adults (16-24) had used drugs in the past year. Taking drugs is less cool than it used to be.  Horizon magazine talked to four English teenagers.

Teenagers discuss drug taking...

drugsSimplified from a discussion among teenagers

HORIZON: Have you ever tried drugs, any of you?
ELLIE: I've tried pot once or twice.
HORIZON:: And how old are you?
ELLIE: Seventeen.
HORIZON: Do you take it regularly?
ELLIE: Not really, no. I only tried it to see what it was like.
HORIZON: Have you tried any other drugs?
ELLIE: Personally, no. But I know several people that have.
HORIZON: What sort of drugs?
ELLIE: Ecstasy mostly.
HORIZON: But you haven't taken ecstasy yourself?
ELLIE: No way! I don't want to kill myself!
HORIZON: Do you think there's a risk of that?
ALVIN: Yeah, 'course there is! Look at Leah Betts **, look what 'appened to 'er!
ELLIE: Quite! It doesn't happen to everyone, of course, but you never know. Next time it could be you!
ALVIN: Yeah, she just 'ad it once, didn't she?
HORIZON: That's the girl who died at her 18th birthday party, isn't it?
ALVIN: Yeah, that's right! I don't want that sort of thing to 'appen to me!
HORIZON: What about other drugs?
JIM: They're all dangerous, aren't they?
ELLIE: Pot isn't dangerous, really. It's not as dangerous as cigarettes 'n' alcohol.
JIM: No but they're pretty dangerous too, aren't they? Look at that guy who was driving Diana's car....
ELLIE: Sure, but all the same....
VANESSA: It's not necessarily the drugs themselves that are dangerous, it's the things people do when they're high.
JIM: Precisely, like when they're drunk.
VANESSA:: Yeah, I mean.... there was this guy I heard about the other week; he jumped out of a fourth-floor window, 'cos he thought he could fly.
ALVIN: Yeah, an' there was that model who took heroin and couldn't stand up straight! That was on telly!
HORIZON: So what would you say if a friend of yours started taking drugs?
ELLIE: Nothing really; if that's what they want to do.....
JIM: I'd tell them not to be stupid! After all, half the time, people don't take drugs because they want to, but because someone else pushes them into it.
ELLIE: Some do.
ALVIN: That's right! Like, sometimes you get pushers an' so on trying to force you to take stuff. I tell 'em to stuff it!
VANESSA:: I think it's terrible when pop singers encourage people to take drugs. I just think it's irresponsible! I mean, they're meant to be role models, aren't they?
ELLIE: But you don't 'ave to copy everything they do, do you!
VANESSA:: No....
JIM: Certainly not! I think it's stupid to start. I'm not going to! You never know what'll happen if you start. You may end up a heroin junkie, for all you know.
VANESSA:: Yeah, that's true. I think you've just gotta make sure you don't start.

** Leah Betts : the sad story of Leah Betts was big news in the British media. Leah died at her own 18th birthday party, after taking some ecstasy for the first time

Word guide
sensible: intelligent - pot: cannabis, hashish - quite: that's right - guy: man - high: under the influence of drugs - drunk: affected by alcohol - telly; television - pushers : dealers - an' so on: etc. - stuff: something, some product - stuff it (slang): go away - role model: person whom other people imitate - junkie: addict, person who can't stop taking drugs -

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Student Worksheet

Read the dialogue, then decide if the following statements are true or false.

Ellie is the only one of the four teenagers who has taken drugs.
Leah Betts often took drugs.
Jim thinks that "pot" is not as dangerous as alcohol
Ellie would not tell her friends to stop taking drugs.
Alvin has never met anyone who has offered him drugs.
Vanessa does not think that young people copy or imitate pop stars.

For teachers

Classroom procedure: have students role-play this discussion; but before doing so, work through the text checking out the missing "h"s and other aspects of spoken language ('Course instead of of course, 'n' for and, yeah, and various fillers: I mean, like.)

Grammar: besides the points just mentioned, pay attention to the tag questions in this dialogue, such as They're all dangerous, aren't they?
For further practice, see this interactive tag questions quiz.

Functions: Have pupils list the various ways of agreeing and disagreeing expressed in this dialogue:
Agreeing: Yeah of course / Quite / Yeah / Yeah that's right / Precisely / That's right! / That's true!
Disagreeing: No way! / No but... / But .....
Certainly not is a special case: after an affirmation, it marks strong disagreement, after a negative statement, it implies strong agreement. Which is it in this dialogue?

Written exercise: In groups of two, have students produce a short flyer (single-page leaflet) on the subject of drug abuse, for distribution in your school, under the title DRUGS AIN'T COOL!. Have them use as much imagination as possible, and encourage them to be creative. By doing so, you will be helping to instil an anti-drug mood in your own school. Peer pressure can work in any direction.

Other ideas?
EFL teachers: Help develop this resource by contributing extra teaching materials or exercises.
To contribute click here for further details

This teaching resource is © copyright Linguapress renewed 2020.
Originally published in Horizon, the low-intermediate level English newsmagazine.
Republication on other websites or in print is not authorised

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Intermediate level EFL resource
Linguapress intermediate English reading

Target readers : teenagers, young adults

Readability -
Easy to readFlesch-Kincaid   
Average grade level: 5.1
Reading ease level:  83.8
CEF level: B1 - B2
IELTS Level  5

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This article:
Grammar point: tag questions.

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Updated 2015 from an article originally published in Horizon, the low-Intermediate level English newsmagazine.

Multi-copying of this resource is permitted for classroom use. In schools declaring the source of copied materials to a national copyright agency, Linguapress intermediate level resources should be attributed to "Horizon" as the source and "Linguapresss France" as the publisher.
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