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Understanding Drugs & Alcohol


Purpose of the UDA Program

Students that have violated California Education Code 48900.c can legally be expelled. Merced Union High School District (MUHSD) is providing a program for students which may serve as an alternative to expulsion. MUHSD’s District Opportunity Center (DOC) is a no cost, 4 consecutive day, 8:45 am-3:15 pm drug and alcohol intervention program.

How the Program Operates

Each day, time is allotted for students to maintain their academic schedule. Individual academic instruction is provided by a MUHSD credentialed teacher in the DOC. Time is also allotted each day for students to participate in a variety of drug, alcohol, and tobacco education and intervention lessons. These lessons will consist of group activities, computer interactive lessons, speaker presentations, and intensive individual intervention facilitated by MUHSD’s Intervention Specialist. Drug, alcohol, and tobacco intervention curriculum utilized by the DOC is researched-based and found effective for MUHSD’s student population. Curriculum tools have been gathered from publications by the University of Southern California’s Institute for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Research, as well as, the University of Texas’s MD Anderson Cancer Center Department of Behavioral Science.



Phil JenkinsTBD



East Campus Educational Center Rm 24


1900 G Street, Merced, CA 95340


The focus of the UDA Program is to intervene and assist students that are experiencing substance use and/or substance abuse related issues. Our goal is to educate students through lessons, videos, activities, one-on-one counseling, group support, and other available resources so that students fully understand the dangers of substance abuse.

The program operates from 9:00am to 3:30pm and requires students to participate and engage in four days of intervention lessons. Each morning, from 9:00am to 10:30am, students are given time to work on classwork that they will be missing while participating in the program. During this morning period, students are pulled for one-on-one meetings with the District Intervention Specialist for risk assessment, intervention counseling, and exit planning. From 10:30pm to 3:30pm students are engaged in lessons and activities that are focused on substance use/abuse. The lessons that the students are engaged in include:


A 15-minute daily presentation designed to inform all students of the rules, expectations, and confidentiality pertaining to the program.


Alcohol Abuse:

This is a facilitated group discussion that allows the students an opportunity to consider the immediate and long-term dangers of alcohol abuse.

Marijuana Abuse:

This is a facilitated group discussion that allows the students an opportunity to consider the immediate and long-term dangers of marijuana abuse.


Myths & Denial:

This lesson is intended to shatter some of the most common myths pertaining to substance use. Students are also made aware of several forms of denial and encouraged to reflect on the role denial has played in their personal experience with substance use.


This lesson challenges students to look within and consider how stereotyping influences perception, emotion, and behavior. Students are also educated on the concept of “self-fulfilling prophecy”and consider the power in positive self-talk.


Drugs & Their Effects:

The lesson is intended to enhance awareness of drug classification and their physiological effects.

Pros & Cons:

This is a guided activity in which students provide all the lesson content. Students brainstorm all possible pros and cons stemming from substance use. The diagram used for plotting this student-given information paints a clear picture of the cost of choosing to use and the benefits from choosing to abstain from substance use.

Good-Bye Letter:

Students compose a personal good-bye letter to their drug of choice. Students are encouraged to share their letter with the group.



The objective of this lesson is to examine situations which may pose added challenges for maintaining ones self-control. Students are also provided strategies for dealing with challenging situations and emotions. Furthermore, this lesson also contains a focus on the idea of recidivism. This concept is used to emphasize the increased likelihood of future school, legal, life problems if substance use behaviors do not change.

Goal Setting:

Establishing and pursuing goals is an essential process for behavioral modification. This lesson consists of a facilitated group discussion pertaining to short-term and long-term goals. Students are then given 20-30 minutes to develop goals and discuss the action plans for achieving said goals.

Personal Reflection:

Time is provided at the conclusion of each day for students to write about their experience, reflect upon the day’s lessons, and process emotions.

Upon completing the UDA program requirements, the Intervention Specialist facilitates an exit conference with the parent/guardian and student. The objective of this conference is to communicate to the parent/guardian the established exit plan, which may contain referrals to outside agencies based on the student’s particular needs. Students are also encouraged during this time to share their short-term and long-term goals with parents/guardians with the hope to increase accountability.

Partnering Agencies

Resource Links

Voluntary Referral Form

Student Testimonials

I am finished... posted Dec 14, 2012

I feel this class has impacted my life for the good. I am finished doing what I did. I believe I can reach my goals now that weed is out of my life.

I am going to stop... posted Dec 14, 2012

After this program, I have learned many new things I didn't know about marijuana. I found it very helpful. I am going to stop using it because it doesn't only have affects on me, it has affects on my family, friends, and girlfriend. In other words, all of my relationships. It's also not good for my health and can prevent me from achieving my goals. I don't want to become an addict so I'm going to do the right thing and stop using it for my own good and for others.

I really enjoyed it. posted Oct 14, 2009

How I feel about the DOC program is that it was helpful and that I really enjoyed it. When I first came into the class I thought that because marijuana was natural it wouldn't hurt my body but what I found out is that it only doesn't hurt you, it hurts the people around you by second hand smoke and by emotional problems. I thank the teachers here for being there for students like me and I really look up to them. Thank you!

My Experience posted Oct 14, 2009

I feel like it really helped me understand that what I was doing was bad. Also, I now understand that I don't need it in my life to get by or feel better. I had a really good experience in the DOC. My experience in DOC helped me in ways I didn't think it would.

Student Pre-Survey

Student Post-Survey