Self-diagnosing from the web

With the expansion of the internet into virtually every sphere of life, coupled with its accessibility by virtually anyone, virtually anywhere, it can sometimes seem like the role of the information provider has been diminished to irrelevance. From our experience, however, the opposite is the truth.

Much like the well-known phenomenon of someone with symptoms of illness putting them into Google and managing to convince themselves they have every ailment known to medical science, it is all too easy for someone with a vague interest in drugs (be it personal or professional) to type in, for example, ‘effects of cocaine’ and, after spending a few minutes perusing the first half dozen results, consider themselves sufficiently knowledgeable to comment on the subject.

Having recently done this very investigation, we found that four of the first five results were links to websites that only present a one-sided, judgemental view of drug use:,, and Talk to Frank. Clearly, anyone relying solely on these sources for their information will emerge with a heavily biased view of the subject. We don’t claim to be immune to the risks of subjectivity, but we have a long history of providing detailed, reliable and judgment free information, with no ulterior motives or agenda to push.

There are other dangers; it is fairly easy to put up a website containing unqualified, unreferenced and even inaccurate statements of ‘fact’ and have it rise to a position of prominence in the search listings. Without the reader having a good understanding of the intricacies of the drug debate, not to mention the complexities of the substances themselves, it is very difficult for them to discern good information from bad.

Whilst most people will appreciate the importance of accessing well-qualified help, we are aware that the temptation remains to just have a quick look online. We’re not suggesting that this is always a bad thing; it can sometimes be helpful, as a bit of understanding of an issue you were previously unfamiliar with can give you a sense of empowerment and put your mind at rest. However, it is important not to solely rely on this, especially when it comes to issues as important as your health. The information available on our website can answer many of your queries, but if there’s something you don’t understand, you have a very specific question, or you just feel more comfortable talking to a human being, it’s best to call the helpline.