En español
NIDA

Brain Power: Grades K-1

Background

This module serves as an introduction to the concept of helpful medicines and harmful drugs. In this module, the helpful medicines discussed are acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin), acetaminophen (Tylenol), fluoride, immunizations, and antibiotics. These substances either cure illnesses or prevent problems from occurring. Nonetheless, even these substances must be used with care. In this module, students will learn that they are helpful only when they are given at the right times in the right amounts by people who care about children—parents, doctors, dentists, and other caregivers. They will also learn that it is important to follow the dosage prescribed by the healthcare provider. Taking too much medicine or not enough can be dangerous.

The harmful drugs discussed in this module are nicotine and alcohol. Students will learn that, when used in excess, these substances can cause such problems as impaired concentration, slow reflexes, impaired reaction time, poor coordination, and drowsiness (alcohol), as well as a reduction of appetite, nausea, and vomiting (nicotine).

The following list gives information about the substances studied in the module. Students will learn more about alcohol and illegal drugs in the Brain Power! Program for second- and third-grade students. If you feel that students are ready to learn about these other substances now, feel free to do so. Information about these illegal substances is included on the next page.

Aspirin or Tylenol

Other Terms:
Aspirin is also known as acetylsalicylic acid; Tylenol is made from acetaminophen
How It Is Used:
Taken orally in a liquid, pill, or gum form
Effects on the Body:
Both aspirin and Tylenol reduce fever and ease aches and pains; aspirin can decrease the risk of heart attacks
How It Works:
Aspirin inhibits the production of some chemicals that play a role in blood clotting; aspirin also inhibits the production of certain types of enzymes that cause inflammation and pain; Tylenol raises the body’s threshold for pain by interacting with chemicals in the body

Fluoride

Other Terms:
Sodium fluoride
How It Is Used:
Available as tablets, drops, rinses, gels, and paste
Effects on the Body:
Prevents cavities and can also treat osteoporosis
How it works:
Hardens the enamel on teeth and reduces the harmful effects of plaque; causes an increase in bone mineral density

Immunizations

Other Terms:
Vaccinations, inoculations
How It Is Used:
Injected or taken orally
Effects on the Body:
Boosts the body’s resistance to specific diseases
How it works:
Causes the body to produce antibodies to fight diseases

Antibiotics

Other Terms:
Penicillin, cephalosporins, tetracycline
How It Is Used:
Taken orally as a pill or liquid, or injected
Effects on the Body:
Fights diseases caused by bacteria
How it works:
Antibiotics kill bacteria by preventing them from constructing cell walls; the bacteria can’t reproduce, and they die out

Alcohol

Other Terms:
Ethyl alcohol or ethanol, beer, wine, and liquor
How It Is Used:
Consumed by drinking
Effects on the Body:
Impairs concentration, slows reflexes, impairs reaction time, reduces coordination, and causes drowsiness when used in excess
How it works:
Depresses the central nervous system and can kill brain cells when used in excess

Nicotine

Other Terms:
Nicotine is found in cigarettes, cigars, and smokeless tobacco
How It Is Used:
Smoked or chewed
Effects on the Body:
Reduces appetite and can cause nausea and vomiting; increases alertness
How it works:
Acts as a stimulant, speeding up the heart and raising blood pressure

Illegal Drugs (Marijuana, Cocaine, and Crack)

Other Terms:
Marijuana is referred to as grass, pot, reefer, and weed; cocaine is also called coke, snow, or blow; crack is a form of cocaine also called rock, rox, or base
How It Is Used:
Marijuana is usually smoked but can be baked into brownies or cookies or brewed like tea; cocaine can be snorted; crack can be smoked
Effects on the Body:
Marijuana impairs memory, concentration, perception, and movement; cocaine stimulates the brain and spinal cord causing dizziness, headache, anxiety, insomnia, and depression when the person stops using the drug
How it works:
Marijuana acts on parts of the brain that control thinking, pain, and memory; cocaine effects the reward center of the brain disrupting the normal action of dopamine which is associated with feelings of pleasure

Facts About Cocaine

Cocaine affects the brain and the body in many ways. It makes a person’s heart beat faster and blood pressure rise. It can change the way someone feels and acts, making it harder to make wise decisions. Cocaine is a very addictive drug; when people use it, they find it really hard to stop.

Facts About Marijuana

Marijuana can make it harder for the brain to function properly. For example, marijuana can cause people to forget important information and lose the ability to think clearly and solve problems. Marijuana also can have negative effects on people’s health. Inhaling marijuana may increase the risk of harming the lungs and developing lung cancer. Finally, marijuana is an addictive drug that changes the way the brain functions.

This page was last updated September 2009

Get this Publication

Cite this article

APA style citation

NIDA (2009). Brain Power: Grades K-1. Retrieved , from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/brain-power/brain-power-grades-k-1

press ctrl+c to copy
NIDA Notes: The Latest in Drug Abuse Research

Brain Power Video Modules: Grades K-1