Activity Overview

Students should learn to recognize the impact of the low dopamine levels in the brain following a high from a drug. This low is a primary cause for repetitive drug use. In order to make this concept as impactful as possible, it’s important to talk about how the brain’s reward system works and how drugs modify it.

In this activity, students will compare the dopamine effect in a "natural high", like exercising, socializing, etc. with the dopamine effect of a drug. While the provided example in this activity can be used as an educational diagram for students, it's helpful for them to create their own first! Students will create a chart to compare the dopamine effect, complete with a visual to help them remember.

This activity can be modified for students to fill in after a class discussion or for those who need additional scaffolding. Leaving the ‘high’ and ‘low’ cells blank for students to fill in will help create a connection with content. Or, remove the line on the graph and un-highlight the brain. What the teacher chooses to add or remove will vary based on what they want their students to remember and practice.

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Student Instructions

Create a storyboard depicting the differences in dopamine levels of natural and drug highs.

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Label the rows with Drug and Natural.
  3. Label the columns with High, High's Impact, Low, and Low's Impact.
  4. In the ‘High’ cells, create an example of a natural high and a drug influenced high.
  5. Fill in the bar line graph show accurate levels of dopamine for both natural high and drug abuse while highlighting the part of the brain affected.
  6. In the ‘Low’ cells create an example a natural low and a drug influenced low.
  7. Fill in the bar line graph show accurate levels of dopamine for both natural and drug abuse. Highlight the part of the brain affected.
  8. In the descriptions, explain what is happening in each cell
  9. Save often!

Lesson Plan Reference

Grade Level 9-12

Difficulty Level 4 (Difficult / Complex)

Type of Assignment Individual, Partner, or Group


(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

More Storyboard That Activities


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