|Simplifying a Complex Subject
|There is NO Tobacco in Tabasco!
This is dedicated to Art Linkletter and Bill Cosby:
After 14 years of teaching drug education, I’m tempted to think I’ve heard it all. I’m used to getting questions from out of left
field, but I always attempt to answer my student’s questions honestly, scientifically and without laughing. I NEVER want to
make them feel bad for asking. My class is a safe haven for 4th – 6th graders to ask drug questions, and it is my job is to
simplify a complex subject by teaching a class called “Myths Around The World,” which is the history of drugs played in a
geographic game. Our goal is to dispel myths, discuss slang vs. scientific terminology, and talk about how many of the drugs of
abuse began as medicines. It’s a fun way to learn the beginning levels of drug prevention education and jumpstart this life-long
discussion. The history of drugs is naturally funny without me or my students adding anything extra. After all, hundreds of
years ago, they actually thought tobacco could cure lung cancer!
The usual questions come up in every class: “my uncle smokes, how do I make him stop?” “What do drugs taste like?” “Why do
people do drugs?” These are simple, honest and expected questions.
There is one question, though, since I hear it so frequently and because it points out the kind of hilarious confusion drug
education can inspire, that I feel I must address once and for all -
I want to officially say that there is NO TOBACCO IN TABASCO.
Honestly, this makes me smile every time I hear it. It is a simple case of misunderstanding the language, and it is my job to clear
up the confusion. After I get the question, the class comes to a complete halt. I carefully take a few minutes reiterating my
answer in several ways just to be clear.
Tabasco is a hot sauce. Tobacco is a plant that cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco and snuff are made from. Nicotine is the
stimulant drug in tobacco. There is no nicotine in Tabasco. In my class, I use the example, “My husband loves Tabasco hot sauce
on his tacos, but as a former tobacco smoker, he is very careful to never use tobacco products.” I promise you that there is not
now, nor has there ever been, tobacco products, leaves, ingredients or additives in Tabasco. Some kids giggle, but after I
answer the question I always get the same exuberant sigh of relief, and some kid always shouts out, “I love Tabasco!!! I’m so
relieved I can still use it.”
Being a traveling drug educator has the potential to be a very depressing, but my husband and I have found a way to make this
job fun. We never expected questions that are so innocent and naturally funny. I couldn’t write funnier questions than some
that I get repeatedly from my students. The number one cutest question I get is, “How high do people float when they get high?”
The number one award for literal thinkers is, “When a person barfs their brains out, how do the brains come out of their
head?” And for those readers wondering what is the number one most common question I get? The winner is, “Which one is
worse, pot or weed?”
Most adults remember drug education as gloom and doom coupled with scare tactics (that is if they had any drug education at
all.) But in my class, scattered among the myriad questions about drug abuse, are the questions that bring a smile to my face. It’
s these questions that remind me that kids are still innocent and that it is my responsibility to guide them, because I may be the
first person to ever talk to them about this subject. How I choose my words can make an impact for the rest of their life, and
at the very least I will have made this small difference – they’ll never be scared of Tabasco again.
April Is The 24th Annual Alcohol Awareness Month
For your discussion:
In 1944, Marty Mann, the first female member of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) founded the National Council on Alcoholism and
Drug Dependence (NCADD) to “reduce the stigma and to educate Americans that alcoholism and other drug addictions are
preventable and treatable, not a moral failing.” The NCADD developed employee assistance programs, succeeded in placing
warning labels on all alcoholic beverages, formally defined alcoholism in the Journal of the American Medical Association and
currently sponsors Alcohol Awareness Month each April. Miles To Go salutes the NCADD for their ongoing efforts to increase
alcohol awareness and lower the rate of alcohol use by teens.
For more information about April’s Alcohol Awareness Month including links to audio reports for the classroom, home-school
or family. Please preview the reports and tell us how you used them with your students or family. Most are good for grades 5-
NCADD Awareness Activities: http://www.ncadd.org/programs/awareness/index.html
MADD: Why 21 & Alcohol and the teen brain (Our favorites to kick off discussions)
NPR Article: Teen Drinking May Cause Irreversible Brain Damage with audio.
NPR Article: Keeping Teens Sober At Prom With Science.
Study: Teen Drinking Can Have Lifelong Effects
Alcohol and cancer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcohol_and_cancer
Our daily twitter updates can help you keep the conversation going in the classroom:
|Send Us Your Questions for our New Audio Show --
“The Drug Guys Tell All” Audio show will launch in late 2011
Over 15 years, we’ve answered thousands of questions at parent meetings, on the phone, and in
e-mail and letters. Now, we’re going to answer these individual questions via an audio show so everyone can hear the answers.
Who is the audience? Parents, grandparents, friends, teachers, counselors, school administrators, college students, and professionals
working in the health addiction, recovery, prevention, and recovery fields
Who can write in or call? Anyone over the age of 18 – yes, you can call or write for someone under 18.
Where can I listen? Initially, it will launch on Itunes (where you can find our other podcasts), podbean and our website. We will send an
announcement email when it is up and running.
Will I be able to find the answers anywhere else? Yes, some of these questions will also be answered in written form for our website,
books and newspaper articles.
Here are just a few of the questions we’ve answered in all our years.
I’ve never done a drug in my life, how do I tell my kids not to do drugs and still be cool to them?
How much alcohol should I allow my son to serve at a high school party?
Should I force my kid to smoke a pack of cigarettes to teach him a lesson after catching him smoking?
How early do we tell our children about their family history of alcoholism?
My ex-husband is allowing my kids to drink wine at the table when they visit him and I am completely against it, what do I do when I have no control of the
Should marijuana be legal?
Another adult in my school is providing alcohol to all the kids, what do we do?
Send your questions NOW!
Please include your contact name, phone number, and indicate if you prefer to stay anonymous when we answer your question. You will
be contacted if we need any more information.
Call in your questions: 714-444-2292 Yes, you may hear your voice in the audio broadcast, so please indicate if you want to be anonymous
– we will obviously never include your personal information in the broadcast.
e-mail your questions: firstname.lastname@example.org (click here)
|Begin by following us on Twitter (click on the icon) Everyday we post all of the most|
|recent research with links to the articles/studies. This way you can stay up to date with all of the trends in |
drug use, behavior and parenting.
|Our Links Page is the place to find safe information for help, information or research.|
|Our written and audio Twitter News For Your Classroom is an expanded listing of all of our Twitter news|
|with discussions included.|
|Our Blog Page and our Drug Fact Update page, to find specific entries that may work for topics of|
|discussion for social studies, government, psychology, role models, smoking, etc.|
|Don't forget to check Our Favorite Books Page, Teacher Page.|
|Check back monthly or subscribe to our Drug Fact Update emails. This page will continue to grow|
|throughout the 2011-2012 school year.|
|Fake marijuana/Spice Update 2012
Click here for more research - Click here for a slide with
picture of spice
This excellent report of all the newest drugs for 2012 was
published by Medscape from WebMD:
The New Face of Abused Drugs: What Clinicians (parents &
teachers) Need to Know -