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NIDA. (2004, July 1). NIDA's New Web Site for Teens Promotes Understanding of Drug Abuse. Retrieved from

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July 01, 2004

Knowledge is power, and a new NIDA educational product empowers teens to make healthful decisions about drugs. "NIDA for Teens: The Science Behind Drug Abuse" is an interactive Web site for adolescents ages 11 through 15, as well as their parents and teachers.

To ensure that the NIDA for Teens' content tackles issues of concern to kids, the Institute enlisted teenagers to help with its development. NIDA worked with a University of Baltimore design team that included youths and was funded through a National Science Foundation grant. The young group of content and usability "experts" critiqued and enhanced NIDA's concepts, many of which were based on the highly successful Heads Up campaign that partners NIDA and Scholastic Magazines, Inc., and reaches more than 8 million students a year. The young design team also helped NIDA sharpen the site's design, with an eye toward attracting and informing their media-savvy peers.

Because teens want information, not attitude, the site delivers science-based facts about how drugs affect the brain and . Animated illustrations, quizzes, and games are used throughout the Web site to clarify concepts, test the visitor's knowledge, and make learning fun. Drugs currently featured on the site are marijuana, nicotine, ecstasy, and anabolic steroids, with sections on inhalants and stimulants coming soon. A primer on "The Brain and Addiction" explains why addiction is a brain disease, summarizing the key concepts of how drugs affect the brain.

"Ask Dr. NIDA," provides NIDA Director Dr. Nora D. Volkow's answers to the questions most frequently asked by teens, such as:

  • Can one-time drug use lead to addiction?
  • What drugs are commonly abused?
  • What is withdrawal and how long does it last?
  • What are the costs of drug abuse to society?
  • If a pregnant woman abuses drugs, will it affect her baby?

In "NIDA for Teens: Real Stories," teens who have struggled with drug addiction share their personal experiences. For example, one teen discusses using and selling ecstasy to feel popular, but ending up completely alone. Another teen tells of smoking marijuana to escape his problems and fit in, but finds there's been a high price to pay for this choice. Still another teen recounts his experience as a top high school athlete who developed a two-pack-a-day habit and now can't run without wheezing.

On a lighter note, the site features "Have Fun & Learn," which invites teens to join "Sara Bellum" as she explores the brain's response to various drugs. In Dr. NIDA's challenge, teens explore the human online to discover what happens when someone uses drugs. Visitors are invited to take the challenge to build a better . NIDA Libs asks teens to fill in the blanks to create an article about marijuana.

The site also offers information for teachers, parents, and others involved in the lives of teenagers to help them better understand the science behind drug abuse by completing activities on the brain and addiction, various drugs, and the physical reality of drug use. Check back often at, NIDA's site for teens and those who care about them.