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Best Online Resources to Learn About Substance Abuse in 2015

December 19, 2014  |  Falmouth Enterprise

Dr. Michael Bihari

This is the time of the year that many of us make lists; what to buy for holiday gifts and those oft-dreaded New Year’s resolutions. If you’re interested in learning more about preventing and managing underage drinking, prescription pill abuse, marijuana use, and the growing heroin problem, unwrap that new tablet, smart phone, or laptop and check out one or more of the Falmouth Prevention Partnership’s recommended online resources.

These resources may help provide you with the information you need to make the best decisions for yourself, your children, and other members of your family. Being fully educated about substance abuse issues will make it easier for you to communicate effectively with your kids about tough subjects.

All of these sites are free of advertisements, are accurate and up-to-date, and provide information that is based on sound scientific evidence. This article includes resources specifically for parents and grandparents. A follow-up article will outline resources for you to share with your teens and preteens. 

Partnership for Drug-Free Kids Founded in 1987, the organization is “dedicated to reducing teen substance abuse and helping families impacted by addiction.” The Partnership’s site provides a series of guides and tools to inform and support families, including: Learn About Drugs; How to Raise Healthy, Drug-Free Kids; The Teen Brain; How to Prevent Drug Use at Every Age; How to Talk to Your Kids About Drugs If You Did Drugs; Underage Drinking in the Home; and, A Guide for Grandparents. Also, the site provides access to a support community, the latest news about substance abuse issues, forums, a parent blog, and stories of hope. 

Bottom Line: One of the best sites for parents and grandparents; loaded with great information and guidance.

MedlinePlus Produced by the National Library of Medicine, MedlinePlus has extensive information from the National Institutes of Health and other sources on over 900 diseases and conditions. From the “Health Topic” tag on the site’s home page, you can easily find information on substance abuse issues, including pages on Underage Drinking; Prescription Drug Abuse; Drugs and Young People; Marijuana; and Heroin, among others. Each page provides access to overviews about the topic, latest news, prevention, treatment, research, medical journal articles, statistics, and related organizations.

Bottom Line: Access to a wide-range of the latest information selected by the world’s largest and most respected medical library.

KidsHealth With up to one million visits every day, KidsHealth is the most-visited internet site for information about the health, behavior, and development of kids from birth through the teen years. The site is divided into three sections-parents, kids, and teens, each presenting similar information but presented at the appropriate level. The best way to access the information you are looking for is to use the search box available on each page.

Bottom Line: Although the site’s navigation and look is a bit outdated, the information is excellent. Use the search box until you get used to how the site works.

National Institute on Drug Abuse The NIDA site provides detailed information about drugs of abuse and the science of drug addiction, including the excellent “Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction.”

The site also provides links to government recommended sites for teens and young adults. Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of NIDA maintains an interesting blog highlighting substance abuse issues; and, the organization has an active YouTube presence.   

Bottom Line: An excellent option if you are interested in research involving drug addiction presented in a clear and easy-to-use format.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration SAMHSA is the agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation and to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America's communities. The agency is the organization that initially provided the funds to start and maintain the Falmouth Prevention Partnership. SAMHSA’s website provides a wealth of information about how drugs are abused in the country along with access to local resources for treatment and prevention.

Bottom Line: Excellent resource for information about prevention programs and where and how to get help.

CDC Parent Information This site provides information about how to keep your teens healthy and guide them into adulthood. Learn about diseases and conditions that your teens might experience. Find out how to keep your teen safe at home and in the community. Get information on risk behaviors your teens may face from eating disorders and body piercing to drugs and alcohol.

Bottom Line: Excellent resource for adolescent general health issues with access to a wide range of disease-specific information.

PAMF Resources for Parents No matter the stage of development your kids are in, this site from the Palo Alto Medical Foundation has valuable information for you. Explore the site for general information and tips for guiding your kids to a healthy future. Learn how to help your preteens establish healthy lifestyles as they move into their teens or help your teens understand the dangers of drugs and alcohol.

Bottom Line: Excellent general information site about your teen's health.

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