Drugs figure prominently in S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, a novel about friendship and belonging in the early 1960s. Alcohol, tobacco and caffeinated drinks are mentioned dozens of times, sometimes playing a pivotal role in the plotline, other times offering insight into the daily lives and world views of various characters. Members of both the underprivileged Greasers and over-privileged Socs use drugs, though each character’s relationship with drugs is unique. Different substances are used—or not used—for different reasons and in different ways.
The Outsiders is ideal for helping Grade 8 students develop drug literacy. The story exposes young readers to a wealth of factors related to why people use drugs, and helps them identify and explore some of the potential benefits and consequences of our drug-related choices.
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