MedlinePlus – Substance Abuse Problems

MedlinePlus's section focusing on substance abuse is an important starting point for information about the different forms of substance abuse problems. This sections includes a medical encyclopedia and also links to a variety of outside resources with more detailed information. Some topics include alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, opioids, and more.

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Review Date: 11/12/2018


Ease of Use

This MedlinePlus page is an alphabetical list of topics related to substance abuse. Once clicked, each topic leads to a page that provides a brief summary of the topic as well as numerous links to additional information. This structure requires readers to jump back and forth from website to website, but otherwise the page is easy to use and explore.

Visual Design

The landing page provides only a list of topics and no any images or other infographics to appeal to users. Topic-specific pages contain links to multimedia resources, but the pages themselves are similarly bland.


Users will find comprehensive, detailed, and reliable information about substance abuse and addiction. Inconsistent referencing makes the reliability of each MedlinePlus page variable. Topics found in the medical encyclopedia are well referenced, while individual substance summaries and information from linked sites may not be. However, most links go to respected federal or specialty organization sites.


MedlinePlus clearly identifies the organizations responsible for the content, which include the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, and many more. Users will find that the medical encyclopedia topics have the highest reliability by listing reviewers and date of last review.


  1. Extensive medical encyclopedia with information related to substance use and abuse
  2. Multiple links to up-to-date information on alcohol abuse, tobacco and vaping, and a wide range of prescription/recreational drugs,
  3. Highly credible website with backing from the U.S. government and supplemented with materials generated by authoritative organizations


  1. User-friendliness of materials varies depending on the external website referenced
  2. Users will have to spend significant time navigating and reading in order to get helpful information


Sponsors / Affiliations: The U.S. National Library of Medicine

Accreditations: None

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