But in Tricia Gilliam-Goodwin's case, that's a good thing.
A drug prevention consultant for the state Office of Drug Control Policy, Gilliam-Goodwin's job is to reinforce the age-old lesson of why kids should steer clear of drugs.
But with a curriculum that consists of hands-on activities, peer pressure refusal strategies and bingo, her goal is to make the message stick.
"This is a prevention program rather than an intervention. We're trying to prevent it before it happens instead of trying to catch it after it happens," said Gilliam-Goodwin, who began teaching the 10-week "Too Good For Drugs" curriculum to fifth-graders countywide shortly after Labor Day.
The state-funded program, a partnership between the Office of Drug Control Policy, Kentucky School Boards Association and Kentucky Center for School Safety, targets eastern Kentucky, where data show the drug epidemic is most rampant, and concentrates on fifth-graders "because we felt like that was the age when kids start experimenting," Gilliam-Goodwin said.
The program begins with a pre-test survey, which allows the agencies involved to learn students' weaknesses and strengths regarding drug experimentation, exposure and use. It also follows up on how well students received the material by surveying them after their weekly one-hour lessons.
In fact, results from the surveys in the last three years show that students in Harlan County are showing "positive change across all domains measured," according to the Kentucky School Boards Association. Those measurements consider emotional competence; social and resistance skills; goal-setting and decision-making; and perceived harmful effects of alcohol, tobacco and marijuana and students' intentions to use those substances.
"I think it's a wonderful program, and I think it does make a difference," said Gilliam-Goodwin, a 1997 graduate of Cumberland High School. "They love it. I mean, I have a really good response from the kids."
That good response is largely a result of finding ways to captivate the students and retain their attention. So the program not only teaches "positive excuses" when it comes to refusing drugs, but it also allows for some playtime.
A game called Gateway Bingo, for instance, teaches students about the "gateway drugs" of alcohol, tobacco and marijuana - "the three drugs that are most commonly used to open the gates to other drug use," Gilliam-Goodwin explained.
The pre- and post-tests not only help state and education officials determine what students are learning, but they also give an indication of how many students may already be exposed to drugs or other substances in the home.
"Drugs are rampant, unfortunately, in Harlan County," said Mike Cox, principal at Cawood Elementary School. "It's something the kids are aware of, and I think the program is making a real positive impact."
Heather Wainscott, administrative branch manager for the Office of Drug Control Policy, said the drug prevention program was made possible with a $500,000 allotment from the General Assembly in 2005. The funds were secured for the Office of Drug Control Policy and restricted for drug prevention education, she said.
The program has grown steadily since then, more than doubling the number of schools and students it's reaching.
During its first year, seven drug prevention consultants served approximately 48 schools.
Now, with 16 consultants, the program is reaching more than 100 schools and approximately 5,800 students in eastern Kentucky.
"We are making a difference," Wainscott said. "I am hopeful this will be a continuing and growing program."
The program is up for refunding for the 2008-2010 biennium, she said.
Bobbie Dixon, a science and social studies teacher at Harlan Elementary School, said the drug prevention program is breaking the mold by teaching students how to respond to different drug-related scenarios, rather than simply telling them what to do.
"I think sometimes at this level, kids have heard about it. They've been told not to do it. But I think the nice thing about this program is it actually involves them in that personal decision-making," Dixon said. "They learn ... the difference between a good decision and a bad decision.
"Hopefully, we're providing them with a tool that, when they're confronted with those decisions, they can say, 'OK, wait a minute. This is what I should do.'"
"I really feel like she's preparing them for that time," added Cox.
Christian Magnani, a fifth-grader at Harlan Elementary School, said the scenarios used in the curriculum help break down the lessons of what kids should say and do if they're feeling pressured to take drugs.
"Sometimes there are some kids that like to do these things and cause a lot of trouble," he said, "and we need to know what to do in case they ask us if we want to do drugs, or if they're trying to get us to do a bad decision."
Haley Gibbons, a classmate, agreed: "It's helped us learn how to make decisions."
"If you remember some of the stuff, sometimes she gives little prizes," added Rachel Stanton, another Harlan Elementary School student participating in the lessons.
"The nice thing about this program is ... they can be actively involved in a fun way," added Dixon. "And, a lot of times, I think that's easier than (talking) with your parents."
Another perk to the program, students said, is a fund-raiser that encourages teamwork in setting and achieving a goal.
During the first year of the program, students at Harlan Elementary School chose to take a field trip to Mr. Gatti's Pizza in Corbin with money they earned from selling the various items offered through the "Too Good For Drugs" fund-raiser. Candles are the most popular - while students were off last week for fall break, Gilliam-Goodwin was sorting through several of them.
But she's enjoying this time, she said, "just as much as the kids" are.
"I find working here very rewarding," she said. "Not only because there's a need for the program, but I really feel like I'm helping the community."
Gilliam-Goodwin earned a bachelor's degree in education from Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, where she is currently taking graduate courses to become a school counselor.