Tragedy and Hope: Contemplating Nature vs. Nurture Lesson

Grades 6-12 - One class period


Program Segment



Students will be able to:

  • Determine what factors influence one’s susceptibility to addiction
  • Identify environmental protective and risk factors
  • Recognize personal risk of addiction based on family history


Instructional Resources



Addiction, “addiction genes”, coping skills, environmental risk factors, genetic predisposition, protective factors, withdrawal symptoms



  1. Students will watch the segment from Tragedy and Hope Stories of Painkiller Addiction.
  2. The facilitator will distribute the Nature vs. Nurture Fact Sheet.Students will read in small groups or on their own. They can circle any items they would like to discuss or vocabulary words they are unsure of.
  3. After the sheet is read, the class will have a discussion based on facts and the vocabulary words above.The facilitator should be sure to clarify vocabulary terms for as necessary.
  4. The facilitator should pass out the Protective and Risk Factors Worksheet after a brief explanation of what environmental and risk factors are and the different domains they apply to. Students should fill in their sheets independently so they can include factors that relate to their personal lives.
  5. Upon completion, the facilitator will conduct a class discussion to examine examples that fall under each domain for both risk and protective factors.
  6. Next, the facilitator will explain the Family History Interview. It should be made clear that the Family History Interview will count as part of their grade. Students will realize how essential this information is based on class discussion and the completion of the worksheet.


Facilitator Note: The facilitator needs to be aware of the sensitive nature of the Family History Interview. The student does not need to complete this with an immediate family member. Depending on the student’s home life and what they may be going through, this type of discussion could be problematic. The most important thing is the awareness of the topic and that the student gets some information about their genetic family history. The facilitator should also use discretion when grading this portion of the assignment. It should be done on a case by case basis.


Assessment Task

Students should be active participants in class discussion, turn in the Protective and Risk Factors Worksheet as well as the Family History Interview.


National Health Standards

  • Standard 1- Students will comprehend concepts related to health promotion and disease prevention to enhance health.
  • Standard 2- Students will analyze the influence of family, peers, culture, media, technology, and other factors on health behaviors.
  • Standard 4- Students will demonstrate the ability to use interpersonal communication skills to enhance health and avoid or reduce health risks.
  • Standard 7 – Students will demonstrate the ability to practice health-enhancing behaviors and avoid or reduce health risks.


The Science of Addiction