Addiction ESL Lesson Plan

Instructor: Della McGuire

Della has been teaching secondary and adult education for over 20 years. She holds a BS in Sociology, MEd in Reading, and is ABD on the MComm in Storytelling.

This lesson plan allows advanced ESL students to practice vocabulary about addiction by having a conversation with loved ones or professionals in a role play activity to demonstrate proper use of the terms and practical experience in asking for help with an addiction.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this lesson plan, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate the appropriate use of the vocabulary terms on the topic of addiction
  • Practice having difficult conversations with care providers


1 hour

Curriculum Standards


Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11-12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.


Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating a command of formal English when indicated or appropriate. (See grades 11-12 Language standards 1 and 3 here for specific expectations.)


  • Abuse - cruel or inhumane treatment
  • Misuse - improper or excessive use
  • Addiction - being dependent on something habit-forming
  • Recovery - return to an original state
  • Relapse - deteriorate in health
  • Risk - a source of danger
  • Therapy - the act of caring for someone
  • In-patient - a patient who is residing in the hospital where he is being treated
  • Out-patient - a patient who does not reside in the hospital where he is being treated
  • Suffering - feelings of mental or physical pain
  • Dependence - the state of relying on someone or something else
  • Sober - not affected by a chemical substance, especially alcohol
  • Withdrawal - symptoms of not having a drug one is dependent on
  • Overdose - extreme illness or death from using too much of a drug


  • Copies of the above vocabulary list with definitions
  • Index cards


Given the sensitive and complex nature of this topic, this lesson is for older, more advanced ESL students.

Introduce the Lesson

  • Watch the video from the lesson Addiction and Addictive Behaviors: Types & Warning Signs and ask students if they have ever known someone who suffered with addiction.
  • Ask students questions about the signs of addiction and how you may be able to tell if someone is struggling.
  • Distribute copies of the terms and definitions to students.
  • Ask them to think of the translation into their own language for each of the words.
  • Ask students for any questions they have on these terms and discuss any that need clarity.
  • Students can create note cards for the terms to help them learn the vocabulary.


  • Explain to students that there are resources available and the first step to getting someone help is to ask for help. This lesson will provide the opportunity to practice asking for help with addiction issues.
  • In order to demonstrate how these kinds of conversations might go, call the national crisis hotline at 1800 273 TALK (8255). Explain to the hotline operator that you are not in crisis, but want to learn how the hotline would help someone who is calling with a concern about addiction.
    • These calls are common on the hotline and should only take up a couple minutes.
    • A service hotlines provide is preventative education, so unlike calling 911, this is part of the hotline's function and such demonstration calls are allowed.
  • Turn on the speaker phone and ask the operator:
    • What kinds of services are available in the area to treat addiction?
    • What kinds of impacts can addiction have on someone's mental and physical health?
    • What kinds of impacts are there on one's social, emotional or familial functioning?
    • What should concerned students look for when they think a loved one is struggling with addiction?
    • Thank them for their time and service.
  • Ask the class to consider if they needed to call for help in someone's behalf, would they be comfortable talking about it.

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