Many websites that provide alcohol and other drug information originate from organisations that have strong views on the issue and are not particularly balanced. Some sites are pro-drug and advocate for the legalisation of drugs, whereas others are extremely conservative and promote a strong abstinence message. In an attempt to not offend and be politically correct, some government sites provide information that is so ‘bland’ that it is almost useless to those who are trying to sort out fact from fiction.
The websites listed below are not necessarily perfect but each of them has something to offer those who are interested in learning more about the alcohol and other drug field. Useful resources available via these sites have been highlighted where appropriate.
Alcohol. Think Again: This is a great web-based campaign/resource that comes from the WA Government. There is so much information here that it is almost overwhelming but the effort will be well worth it with a range of resources being available for order, as well as a specific section dedicated to Indigenous issues around alcohol.
Community Alcohol Action Network (CAAN): Not so much a website but an advocacy program encouraging people take action in the alcohol area. I strongly recommend joining the Grogwatch blog subscription list. This regular newsletter is incredibly helpful in keeping anyone interested in the alcohol area up-to-date with what is happening and any new resources that become available.
Drinkwise: An industry-funded organisation that attracts a great deal of criticism from some in the public health field. That said, this website provides some information about alcohol that you’re just not going to find anywhere else, particularly around parenting and alcohol and the developing brain.
Don’t Turn A Night Out Into A Nightmare: This is the site for the 2008 Australian Government National Binge Drinking Campaign and provides information about alcohol written very much in a government style. Where it is useful for workers is that a suite of campaign posters are still available for ordering via the site.
It Couldn’t Happen To Me: A fantastic web-based resource from NSW Department of Education and Communities that few know about that provides research, information, ideas and strategies for teachers who are looking at alcohol in the classroom, but it is also great for anyone who works with young people. Go straight to the Alcohol Facts and Research section and watch the videos that are available and also take a look at the great list of links provided on a range of alcohol-related topics.
National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre (NCPIC): NCPIC was recently de-funded and the majority of the website was made inactive at the end of 2016. According to the site, some of the resources the Centre developed will be made available in February 2017.
General Drug Information
Australian Drug Foundation (ADF): This site can be a little confusing if you just want basic information (downloadable fact sheets on a range of alcohol and other drug issues can be found on their Drug Info page) as the organisation has been around for a long time and does a lot! The best page to go to is the Information and Research section that has links to a range of services that the ADF provides, many of which are free.
Family Drug Support (FDS): The FDS is all about supporting families affected by alcohol and other drugs and their site contains some great information specifically designed for that audience. Most probably the most unique sections of the site deal with providing practical advice on how to cope with family members who are experiencing problems with drugs, as well as suggestions on how to set boundaries.
Erowid: A unique website that provides “access to reliable, non-judgmental information about psychoactive plants, chemicals, and related issues.” There really is nothing else like Erowid and if you are working with drug users and find yourself hearing about substances that you’ve never heard about before – this is the site for you. Increasingly ensuring that they utilise evidence-based research (where it exists) and not just user reports, Erowid is a valuable resource.
Other Useful Information
Headspace: Also known as the National Youth Mental Health Foundation, this site targets young people (12-25) who are going through a tough time and provides health advice, support and information. Anyone working with young people should take the time to take a look at this site and know what is on offer.
Reach Out: Targeting almost exactly the same group as Headspace, Reach Out has a dedicated alcohol and other drug section. It provides fact sheets, stories and videos that may help young people recognise when a little problem might be becoming a big one, and gives them tips on what to do when they’re feeling out of their depth.