Science

An Educational Blog on Drug Abuse from the Feds

By Sean Cavanagh — July 17, 2009 1 min read

The National Institute on Drug Abuse has created a new blog aimed at giving teens science-based information about narcotics and their effects on the body. The site houses health facts and detailed science information, which could prove valuable in health and biology classrooms and other settings.

Called the Sara Bellum Blog (and yes, the institute folks confirm, it’s a play on cerebellum, the coordinating center for muscle movement in the brain) entries are put together by a team of NIDA scientists, science writers, and public-health analysts of all ages. It delves into the science of drug abuse and addiction, explaining the latest scientific research and news, with the goal of helping teenagers make “healthy, smart decisions.” The site also includes a glossary, facts about drugs, and real stories from teens who became abusers substances such as anabolic steroids and ecstasy. There are numerous videos with scientists talking about the impact of drugs on the body, and information available to download. “Sometimes it can be hard to know where to go for the truth about drugs,” the site explains. “Here at NIDA, we learn from science—not from rumors or gossip.”

One recent entry on the blog is called “Steroids: More than Meets the Eye,” and it gives a synopsis of muscle-building drugs’ impact on the body: They can cause acne, make your hair fall out, “damage your heart and change your hormone levels so that girls might grow facial hair, and boys could develop breasts,” the site says, adding, “seriously.” There’s also a link to a video in which NIDA scientists make detailed presentations on steroids. Another blog post discusses speculation about what impact, if any, Michael Jackson’s prescription-drug use may have had on his death.

The NIDA, a part of the National Institutes of Health, calls itself the “federal focal point” for research on drug abuse and addiction. The institute puts out a lot of resources for students, which can be accessed through the blog link above. Once you’ve had a look, tell me how the blog compares with other health and health-science educational resources you’ve seen. How much use would this have for teachers—and for teens?

Photo image from the Sara Bellum Blog

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.