En español



Quick Links

Brain Power: Grades 6-9

Legal Doesn't Mean Harmless (Module 2)

You can also download this entire module in PDF format by clicking the following link: Module 2 (PDF, 764KB)


This module focuses on how two drugs, nicotine and alcohol, change the functioning of the brain and body. Both drugs are widely used in the community, and for adults, using them is legal. Nonetheless, both alcohol and nicotine can have a strong impact on the functioning of the brain. Each can cause a number of negative effects on the body and brain, ranging from mild symptoms to addiction.

The goal of this module is to help students understand that, although nicotine and alcohol are legal for adults, they are not harmless substances. Students will learn about how nicotine and alcohol change or disrupt the process of neurotransmission. Students will explore information on the short- and long-term effects of these two drugs, and also learn why these drugs are illegal for children and teens.

Through the media, students are exposed to a great deal of information about alcohol and tobacco, much of which is misleading or scientifically inaccurate. This module will provide information on what researchers have learned about how nicotine and alcohol change the brain, and the resulting implications for safety and health.

Learning Objectives

At the end of this module:

  • Students can explain how nicotine disrupts neurotransmission.
  • Students can explain how alcohol use may harm the brain and the body.
  • Students understand how alcohol can intensify the effect of other drugs.
  • Students can define addiction and understand its basis in the brain.
  • Students draw conclusions about why our society regulates the use of nicotine and alcohol for young people.

This page was last updated June 2007

Ordering Publications

Call 1-877-643-2644 or:
NIDA Drug Pubs
Cite this article

NIDA. (2007, June 1). Brain Power: Grades 6-9. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/brain-power/brain-power-grades-6-9

press ctrl+c to copy

Lesson Plan and Activity Finder