Online Illegal Drug Use Information: An Exploratory Analysis of Drug-Related Website Viewing by Adolescents

Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.
Journal of Health Communication (Impact Factor: 1.61). 10/2009; 14(7):612-30. DOI: 10.1080/10810730903089622
Source: PubMed


Given the uncertain effects of antidrug media campaigns, and the ease of finding online illegal drug information, research is needed on the Internet role in disseminating drug information to youths. This exploratory study analyzes National Survey of Parents and Youth (NSPY) data on drug website viewing among 12-18 year olds (N = 7,145). Approximately 10.4% reported drug-related website exposure: 5.4% viewed only websites that communicated how to avoid drugs or bad things about drugs (antidrug websites); 1.7% only viewed websites that communicated how to use drugs and good things about drugs (prodrug websites); and 3.2% viewed both types of websites. The low rates of viewing antidrug websites occurred despite efforts in the National Youth Antidrug Media Campaign (NYAMC) to encourage youths to visit such websites. Prodrug website viewers had used inhalants and been offered marijuana, perceived little risk in trying marijuana, intended to use marijuana, had close friends who used drugs, reported low parental monitoring, and had been exposed to antidrug media messages. Viewing antidrug websites was related to gender, income, likelihood of using marijuana in the next 12 months, having close friends who use drugs and talking to friends about avoiding drugs, parental monitoring, and drug prevention exposure. Prior prevention exposure increased drug website viewing overall, perhaps by increasing general curiosity about drugs. Because adolescents increasingly seek health information online, research is needed on how they use the Internet as a drug information source, the temporal relationships of prevention exposure and drug website viewing, and the effects of viewing prodrug websites on drug risk.

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