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Sites of Substance: Internet "Drug" Resources

NCJ Number
Substance Use & Misuse Volume: 43 Issue: 1 Dated: 2008 Pages: 17-25
Michael Montagne
Date Published
9 pages
This article, the first in a series on drug information available on Internet Web sites, presents the rationale for the series, outlines approaches for assessing and presenting the features of Web sites that focus on drugs, and reports the results of the first Web site review on the topic of psychedelic drugs.
As the Internet continues to expand and become the primary medium for locating and exchanging information, services, and products, drugs will be a primary area of interest. At least two approaches can be used to identify and evaluate drug-related Web sites. A basic approach involves searching for Web sites, determining those that are representative of what exists, and briefly evaluating and describing them. Another approach involves the use of the Information Quality Tool, which was developed by the Health Summit Working Group. This tool provides an analytical framework for identifying alcohol, tobacco, and other drug information found on the Internet. The tool consists of a set of measurable criteria for assessing the credibility and quality of individual Web sites, as well as articles and information presented. This article's assessment of psychedelic-drug Web sites uses the first of these two approaches. The review of selected representative Web sites on psychedelic drugs show that most sites provide a wide range of information on these substances. The most objective sites are MAPS, Heffter, and Hofmann, which focus on scientific data and evidence derived from research studies. They tend to be archival sites that store research articles, medical information, and helpful links designed to inform viewers about potential therapeutic benefits of psychedelic drugs. The remaining Web sites are in three categories that may overlap on some sites: information and educational, policy reform and advocacy, and commercial sites that sell products and services. A glossary and four references