Senior Project Advisor

Josh Kaplan

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2023


neuroscience, drug education, harm reduction


There is a desperate need to move beyond abstinence-only drug education for high schoolers to address rising overdose rates and acknowledge an industry targeting teenagers for highly potent drugs. Neuroscience offers students insight into how drugs affect the reward system and alter the ability for endogenous systems to modulate essential functions. I created a lesson plan titled, “The Neuroscience of Addiction” for a class at Sehome High School for students in grades 9-12. The presentation addresses the role of dopamine in addiction, the discrepancy between drug policy and scientific understanding, how potency affects tolerance, how motivation for drug seeking evolves over time, ways that long-term drug use alters the brain, etc. Additionally, I compiled a list of lesson plan objectives and created a facilitator guide to accompany the presentation. Future neuroscience-based drug classes for high schoolers should also include harm reduction information including how to test drugs, effects of drug combinations, and how to recognize and treat overdoses.

(Slides to accompany the project are available at the attachment below.)


Behavioral Neuroscience




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