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NIDA Goes BACK to School

For Release October 22, 2003

At a press briefing held today in Washington, D.C., Dr. Nora D. Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), National Institutes of Health, discussed the Institute's new Back to School initiative, which provides students and teachers with informative, accurate information about addiction and drug abuse.

"We are excited about expanding the resources available to students and teachers on the science behind drug abuse and addiction," Dr. Volkow said. "Beyond their educational value, our materials hold the promise of sparking students' general interest in the biological sciences as a possible career choice, while meeting teachers' needs for engaging curricula that also fulfill national science education objectives."

One exciting component of the NIDA Goes Back to School initiative is "NIDA for Teens: The Science Behind Drug Abuse," an interactive Web site officially launched at today's event. Available at, the site was developed with help from the Kids Design Team at the University of Baltimore's School of Information Arts and Technologies.

The new Web site is geared specifically for adolescents ages 11 to 15. It contains age-appropriate facts on drugs, real stories about teens and drug abuse, games, take-home activities, and a Q&A forum with Dr. Volkow as "Dr. NIDA."

NIDA announced the initiative in September with a mailing to an estimated 40,000 middle and high school teachers. The promotion included other engaging educational materials from NIDA such as:

  • Mind Over Matter, a series of informational magazines for grades 5 to 9.
  • Heads Up: Real News About Drugs and Your Body, a drug education series for students in grades 5 to 11, created by NIDA and Scholastic. The program is distributed directly into schools nationwide through Scholastic Classroom Magazines and is available online at, which features drug facts, personal stories, and online activities.
  • The Brain: Understanding Neurobiology Through the Study of Addiction, a curriculum designed for high school students (grades 9 to 12).

These materials are available free of charge from NIDA. Other free materials available at are drug fact sheets, booklets, and the recently updated Preventing Drug Abuse among Children and Adolescents: A Research-Based Guide for Parents, Educators, and Community Leaders. Items also may be ordered from the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information at 1-800-729-6686.

Since October 2002, NIDA's partnership with Scholastic, the global children's publishing and media company, has expanded the ways students and teachers receive information in their classrooms about the health effects of drug abuse. As part of the in-school education program Heads Up: Real News About Drugs and Your Body, Scholastic classroom magazines including Junior Scholastic® and Science World® featured science-based articles on drug abuse, reaching nearly 7 million middle school students monthly. For the 2003-2004 school year, NIDA and Scholastic have developed a new education program, which provides students and teachers with information on stimulants, hallucinogens, medications abuse, and how drug abuse and addiction can have an impact on the developing adolescent brain. Teachers will also receive a reusable "skills book" based on information in the articles, which can be used as a supplementary teaching tool in the classroom.

"NIDA is back to school to stay," Dr. Volkow said, noting that new curricula are in the works. By next fall, NIDA hopes to offer additional elementary grade curricula for Brain Power! The NIDA Junior Scientists Program, which now contains modules for grades 2 to 3. "Science education, especially in the field of drug abuse and addiction, is dynamic," concluded Dr. Volkow. "We want to convey that excitement, while keeping students and their parents, teachers, and school counselors informed of the latest findings our research offers."

NIDA encourages all adults involved in the lives of children to visit to download or view its educational resources. Items can be ordered on line or from the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information at 1-800-729-6686.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse is a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIDA supports more than 85 percent of the world's research on the health aspects of drug abuse and addiction. The Institute carries out a large variety of programs to ensure the rapid dissemination of research information and its implementation in policy and practice. Fact sheets on the health effects of drugs of abuse and further information on NIDA research can be found on the NIDA web site at

For more information about any item in this Release:

  • Contact: Michelle Person
    Blair Gately

    Contacto en Español:
    Sara Rosario

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