Addiction is considered a complex condition, even among medical professionals. Thus, in February 2012, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) unveiled a new website targeted towards adults with lower literacy skills. The website offers information about drug abuse, its prevention and treatment, and the science of addiction. It furthers NIDA's mission by communicating the results of their cutting-edge research to a broad audience, and it represents one part of the organization's efforts to use plain language to promote health literacy.

The new easy-read website features a clean, uncluttered design with large text, lots of informative animated videos, and the ReadSpeaker text-to-speech tool. To listen to any of the information on the site, users simply click on the “Listen to this page" icon at the top of the page. A highlighting tool draws attention to the text that is being read out loud, so that users can follow along on the page. The pages are also designed to print easily in order to share information with others.

Meeting A Need

Although people of all reading levels and learning styles are affected by drug abuse, educators at NIDA realized that there were no drug information websites geared for people with limited reading skills (eighth grade reading level or lower). The website creators hope to reach this overlooked section of the American population with this vital information about prevention and treatment that everyone needs to know.

When developing the new site, NIDA spoke with adults who were currently working to develop their reading skills or studying for the GED at learning centers throughout the Washington, DC, area. Developers also sought input from adult literacy educators and tested versions of the website at these non-profit learning centers. The finished product reflects the needs and preferences of these adult learners and also serves as a resource for adult literacy educators.

Anyone can access the new user-friendly website at www.easyread.drugabuse.gov.

It is easy to navigate the website to find information about popular drugs of abuse, why drugs are so hard to quit, how to seek treatment, and how to prevent drug abuse. The website also presents several personal stories of addiction and recovery.

About NIDA

As a branch of the National Institutes of Health, NIDA's purpose is to support research on addiction and drug abuse across a wide variety of disciplines. NIDA seeks to communicate this knowledge effectively so that drug abuse can be prevented and optimally treated and that proper laws and safety measures can be implemented.

The Institute publishes a wide spectrum of materials developed for different audiences, from curriculum for school children to journals for researchers and health care providers. Literature in both English and Spanish is available through NIDA's Drug Pubs Research Dissemination Center.

NIDA's easy-read website is a great tool for sharing information about drugs with adults of any reading level. Because accurate knowledge is one of the best ways to prevent drug abuse, NIDA offers free postcards that you can use to tell family and friends about this new resource.