| THAILAND | JUNE 15, 2024 |

Bringing Drug Education to Thailand

A health teacher shares how Foundation for a Drug-Free World’s educational materials are the perfect fit to engage his students’ interest in drug prevention.
Health teacher Dennis Reed uses the Truth About Drugs materials with his students.
Health teacher Dennis Reed uses the Truth About Drugs materials with his students.

For the past 15 years, Dennis Reed has worked overseas with cultures and in countries different from his own. When Reed and his family arrived in Thailand, it was the beginning of an adventure. A K-12 international school in Chiang Mai hired him and another school hired his wife as a counselor. As a fitness coach who loves working with students, Reed was offered the position of health teacher, which seemed like a good fit until he realized he was going to have to address a subject that was unknown to him—drugs. While he had some personal experience on how drugs had harmed members of his extended family, he had no idea how to teach his students about the dangers of drugs.

Reed began searching for programs and teaching guides to help him. That is when he came across Foundation for a Drug-Free World and its Truth About Drugs educational materials. He found exactly what he had been looking for: a complete program that provides a comprehensive set of educational materials that are not only geared to young people but also give real-life stories from youth on how drugs destroyed their lives.

“I didn’t want to be another adult telling kids not to do drugs. I wanted to give my students something that would not only be informative but engaging,” explains Reed. “I felt like hearing testimonials from youth of the same age would be very impactful.”

Once Reed received the Foundation for a Drug-Free World’s educational materials, he began implementing them in his module on drugs. Given that Reed was working around a global pandemic that forced the school to go virtual and then back in person, he was grateful that many of the materials worked well online. The videos had a powerful impact, and the results were immediately evident.


“I realized a lot of these students did not know what addiction actually was, so I had them each pick a drug and asked them to investigate it fully, using the Foundation’s materials along with other research sources. At the end of the module, each student shared what he or she had learned with the rest of the class, and that sparked a lot of other conversations,” says Reed.

These discussions, along with the Truth About Drugs videos and booklets, changed the way his students viewed drugs. “Most of my students grew up knowing drugs were bad, but they did not realize that drug use would actually change you as a person. Their empathy for people who are addicted to drugs also changed. That was impressive,” says Reed.

He felt his biggest accomplishment in tackling drug education in his school was that he was able to create an effective curriculum that truly enlightened his students. “The curriculum I put together was built using the Truth About Drugs materials. Honestly, there are no better materials out there. It is set up in a way that we can have discussions as a group, and the students are really engaged. If I got up and lectured for thirty-five minutes, it would not be nearly as powerful.”

But it was his students’ written reflections that really touched him and made him realize how much impact the curriculum had.

“Learning all of this has changed the way I view drugs,” said one of his 9th-grade students. “I used to think that people who do hard drugs were just plain stupid for ruining their bodies like that. However, after this unit, I learned that drug use is something that eventually the users cannot control.”

“After our lessons, I learned that everyone is prone to addiction, no matter who we are,” said one of his 10th-grade students. “Our gender, race, wealth, or background does not matter when it comes to addiction. We should never think of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco as something distant and that won’t affect us. As I watched the former addicts’ interviews, I found out that no one is safe from drugs. I also learned how devastating they can be.”

At the end of the course, Reed lets his students know, “Every single one of you will have to make a decision about drug use at some point in your lives. I want to help you make an informed decision. This is the time to get all your questions answered.” And the Foundation for a Drug-Free World materials help him do just that.