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SLADER: Hypermedia Presentation on Drugs and

Alcohol Use
Tomasz Müldner, Christine van Veen
Jodrey School of Computer Science, Acadia University
Wolfville, Nova Scotia, B0P 1X0, Canada

Peggy Duncan
The Crosbie Centre Association, Miller Hospital
150 Exhitibion St., Kentville, Nova Scotia, B4N 5E3, Canada

email: tomasz.muldner.acadiau.ca
tel. (902) 542-2201 ext. 1578. Fax: (902) 542-4699.

Abstract
SLADER, Student Life Alcohol and Drug Education Resource, is an interactive, computer
presentation produced with NEAT. It uses hypermedia to provide, as well as collect, information about
drugs and alcohol use. While viewing SLADER, the reader can electronically highlight text, write
margin notes and add hypertext windows and links. The current version of SLADER is directed towards
young adults. However, future versions will also interest other age groups.

1 Introduction
SLADER was produced as an efficient and innovative tool for providing university students with
information about drug use and abuse. SLADER can also be used by those students who prefer to "talk" to
the computer, rather than a human being. A computer program is completely confidential, and so the user
can be honest when providing information about his or her problems.

SLADER takes advantage of hypertext technology, providing two learning schemes. In one scheme,
the user can read the material in a linear fashion, that is page by page. At the same time, the user may
choose to read the material in a non-linear fashion, by clicking mouse-sensitive areas of the screen, known
as hypertext links. The latter technique has been proven to increase the efficiency of learning [ALE91,
MAU90, MER89]. SLADER provides unique support for hypertext by allowing the learner to modify the
existing hypertext links, as well as create new ones. SLADER also uses multimedia techniques to enhance
the quality of the presentation. Graphics and animation are often used to present concepts. Also, sound is
used to simplify some parts of the presentation. Finally, there is an optional part, showing a video on drug
abuse.
SLADER was created using NEAT (see Section 2). In order to use SLADER, the user needs a
computer with at least an 80386 central processor running Windows. In order to use multimedia
extensions, some multimedia hardware is required.

2 Hypermedia Tools
NEAT, which stands for iNtegrated Environment for Authoring in ToolBook, provides templates
and various facilities for rapid prototyping of computer-based presentations. NEAT was originally
designed in the summer of 1992 by Tomasz Müldner from Acadia University, Canada, and Stefan Mayer
and Claus Unger from Hagen University, Germany, see [MAY89]. Version 1.0 of NEAT was
implemented by T. Müldner in the fall of 1992, and Version 1.1 was implemented by the same author in
the summer of 1993, see [MUL93a, MUL93b]. NEAT is a "layer" of software on top of ToolBook, see
[TOO91]. Therefore, neatware is an electronic book that can be used with the ToolBook system. So far,
several neatwares have been implemented, including neatware about CBT, neatware for teaching
programming languages and, finally, the neatware described in this paper.

Each neatware can be associated with three main components:

• the main electronic book


• another book consisting of help for the reader of the neatware
• a repository of examples (not included in SLADER)

Each electronic book can consist of title pages and multiple views. It is common to think of these
views as separate books.

As in a traditional book, each view consists of a table of contents, chapters and an index. Each
chapter may consist of several types of pages.

As in the real world, the appearance of these books can be altered in several ways by the reader
during the learning process. Notes can be kept separate from the book, traditionally in a notebook, known
as global notes. Notes can be kept on each page being read, traditionally in the margin of the page, and
therefore known as margin notes. Bookmarks may be placed in various pages of the book. Words of each
page can be highlighted, placing a transparent, coloured rectangle over the words in one of several
colours. Example pages and windows can be accessed from various pages, possibly with a choice of the
user's preference of example type (e.g. Pascal, C or Modula-2 example), providing more insight into
specific details of the neatware. As each page is read, its name is stored in a list known as a history,
which the reader can use to return to recently visited pages.

Unlike in traditional books, an electronic book has other worthwhile features. Hypertext links can
be used to move around in the book, skipping to information which may be more relevant for the reader.
Also, the table of contents contains breadcrumbs, or footprints, which show which pages of the book have
already been read. Of course, neatware also includes various navigation tools to allow the reader to
change pages and access all of the above features. Finally, NEAT provides support for such multimedia
features as animation, sound and videos.

A typical page of neatware produced is shown in Figure 2.1. At the top of the page, there are
menus. At the bottom of the page, there are various icons, used to navigate through neatware, using one
of many navigational features and tools provided by NEAT.

Figure 2.1 Sample Page

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Contents of the Presentation

SLADER uses NEAT to discuss several topics in relation to drugs and alcohol abuse. The chapters
included in this presentation are:

• What is a Drug?
• Stress Management
• Types of Drugs
• Drugs and Pregnancy
• Drugs and the Law
• Finding Help

3.1 What is a Drug?

SLADER defines what a drug is, how drugs interact with the human body, the effectiveness of
drugs, drug abuse, reasons why people use drugs and other important terms. Questions are interleaved
with the tutorial pages of this chapter to help the reader determine if he or she is ready for the following
chapters of the presentation.

SLADER defines a drug as any substance which


can change the normal function of our body or mind. An
animation of spinning cog wheels, sparking and changing
colour as the drug enters the body (see Figure 3.1.1), is
used in SLADER to illustrate the actions of a drug in the
body. Our presentation is restricted to the discussion of
"psychoactive" drugs, which change the way a person
thinks, feels or acts, by altering the normal functions of
various processes in the body and mind.

Figure 3.1.1 Definition of a Drug


SLADER also explains the process which drugs
take through the human body. This process includes absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion.
That is, the drug is absorbed by the body by one of several methods of administration. Note that by
clicking "methods of administration" (see Figure 3.1.2), the user can receive more specific information
(see Figure 3.1.3) about each method of administration. After absorption, the drug is distributed
throughout the body. An animation is used to show one method of distribution, as blood travels
throughout the body (see Figure 3.1.4 below). Psychoactive drugs most seriously affect the human brain.
Another animation is used to show the action of neuro-transmitters within the brain (see Figure 3.1.5
below). Note the window which appears when the word "neuro-transmitters" is clicked in Figure 3.1.5.
Many such windows appear throughout SLADER, providing definitions and additional information for
the user. Eventually, the drug is distributed to the liver, where a process known as metabolism purifies
the substance. Finally, the drug is excreted from the body, mainly by the kidneys.

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Figure 3.1.2 Absorption Figure 3.1.3 Methods of Administration

Figure 3.1.4 Distribution Figure 3.1.5 The Brain

SLADER describes many factors which determine the effectiveness of a drug. The chosen method
of administration, dosage, frequency of use, length of time taken for the drug to reach the proper body
organs and the environmental setting all determine the effectiveness of the drug. Also, the drug's actions
depend on the drug user's age, size, gender, emotional state and beliefs.

Drug abuse is defined in SLADER as any use of a


drug, as well as any substance used like a drug, that causes
a problem or was not intended for the drug, apart from
some undesirable, but unavoidable, side effects of certain
medically used drugs. Also, SLADER describes many
risks of drug abuse, including physical, psychological,
social, economical, legal, family, work and school
problems (see Figure 3.1.6).

Figure 3.1.6 Risks of Drug Abuse

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SLADER describes many reasons why people use drugs. As a parent drinks in front of a child or
some advertising strategies on television may demonstrate, a drug may sound appealing. Drugs are used
to relieve anger, tension and insecurities. Many drugs are glorified by famous people who openly use
them. In some groups, those who do not use drugs feel like outcasts. Regular users of one drug are more
likely to use other drugs. Finally, after using a drug for a period of time, the user may become dependent
on the drug to function, either physically or psychologically.

The final section of this chapter of SLADER


defines some important terms: tolerance, addiction,
relapse and overdose. Tolerance is developed over time
and regular use, as a drug user needs more of a drug to get
the same effect. Addiction is described in SLADER as a
pattern of behaviour characterized by an overpowering
involvement with both getting and using a drug, despite
any negative consequences associated with use of the drug.
A relapse is when a drug user returns to the previous state
of drug use, after reaching a better stage in the recovery
process from drug abuse. Some signs of relapse are
Figure 3.1.7 Signs of Relapse described in SLADER (see Figure 3.1.7). An overdose is
a bad reaction to a drug, which may cause serious and
sudden physical and mental damage, and may be fatal,
depending on the drug and amount taken.

3.2 Managing Stress

Figure 3.2.1 Canada's Food Guide Figure 3.2.2 Milk Products

For many young people, the largest contributing factor to drug abuse is stress. SLADER defines
stress as any elevation in state of either the body or mind. Stress can be good, as most physical exercise
is both stressful and healthy for an individual. However, often stress has negative effects. Ways to
recognize stress are described by SLADER, including poor physical shape, poor eating habits, inability to
control emotions or be expressive to others, unrealistic expectations, tension, and inability to concentrate
or make decisions. After stress is recognized, of course, managing stress is very important. SLADER
states that the key factor in managing stress is maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly.
Canada's Food Guide is presented by SLADER to help the reader achieve this goal (see Figure 3.2.1
above). The reader can click a picture of a food group to learn more about appropriate servings each day
(see Figure 3.2.2 above). The reader is taught that keeping things realistic is also very important. This
chapter concludes with a self-evaluation, which helps to determine the reader's individual level of
university-related stress, while making suggestions for improvement.

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3.3 Types of Drugs

Figure 3.3.1 Uppers Figure 3.3.2 Downers Figure 3.3.3 All-Arounders

This chapter of SLADER deals with the three main types of drugs: uppers, downers and all-
arounders. Uppers are drugs which intensify or speed up activity within the Central Nervous System,
CNS, causing body systems to work harder than normal (see Figure 3.3.1 above). Downers are drugs
which slow down activity within the CNS, causing body systems to relax and resulting in slower reflexes
(see Figure 3.3.2 above). All-arounders are drugs which alter the mind, often known as "psychedelic"
drugs, causing disturbed brain functioning (see Figure 3.3.3 above). All drugs are shown to result in
negative effects.
Uppers include one category of drugs: stimulants. Stimulants are mainly used to keep the user
awake, increase alertness and endurance, produce a feeling of well-being known as euphoria and decrease
appetite. SLADER discusses four examples of stimulants: tobacco, caffeine, amphetamines and cocaine.
Downers include three categories of drugs: opiates or narcotic analgesics, sedative-hypnotics and
tranquillizers. Opiates are highly addictive pain killers, may produce euphoria, can be either natural or
synthetic in nature, are often medically useful under proper supervision and are under the strictest legal
control of all drugs. SLADER discusses the following opiates: opium, morphine, codeine and heroin.
Sedative-hypnotics produce a feeling of calm, drowsiness and euphoria at low dosage levels, as well as can
result in severe intoxication, unconsciousness, severe dependence and even death. SLADER concentrates
on the following sedative-hypnotics: barbiturates, inhalants and alcohol. Tranquillizers are the most
prescribed type of drugs for anxiety, nervousness, insomnia and as muscle relaxants. Tranquillizers, also
known as the "minor tranquillizers", result in a milder calming effect than sedative-hypnotics. SLADER
specifically concentrates on the benzodiazepine family of tranquillizers.
All-arounders consist of two categories of drugs: hallucinogens and cannabis. Hallucinogens can
dramatically affect perception, emotions, mental processes and the senses, causing hallucinations.
Hallucinations are imaginations of changes in the senses, similar to dreams or night-mares and involving
one or more of the five senses. For example, a common hallucination experienced while using cocaine is
"formication", the imagined feeling by the drug user of bugs crawling under his or her skin.
Hallucinogens have no medically accepted use. SLADER discusses the following hallucinogens: LSD,
PCP, psilocybin, MDA and mescaline/peyote. Cannabis is a unique drug, often classed as both a
hallucinogen and a sedative-hypnotic. The section of SLADER about cannabis is meant to dispel any
belief that marijuana is a safe drug.

3.4 Drugs and Pregnancy

The use of drugs during pregnancy is a very pertinent topic today. Every drug discovered has been
shown to cross the placenta during pregnancy. This may result in serious birth defects to the fetus, as well
as other serious complications during birth. Therefore, due to the importance of this topic, SLADER
includes an entire chapter about each of the drugs in the previous chapter (Types of Drugs) and their use
during pregnancy.

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3.5 Drugs and the Law

Each category of drugs has its own relation with the law under the Food and Drugs Act of Canada
and the Narcotic Control Act. For this reason, SLADER includes a chapter describing each drug from the
"Types of Drugs" chapter, with relation to the law, including penalties, fees and jail sentences, as well as
court procedures and other information relevant to possession, use and distribution of illegal drugs.

3.6 Finding Help

If a person utilizing the program is having problems with any kind of drug, he or she will hope to
find help within this presentation. Therefore, the final chapter of SLADER includes all available
information on places and procedures for helping a drug abuser or co-abuser. A co-abuser is a person who
is affected in some way by a drug abuser, either physically, psychologically or emotionally.

4 Conclusion
Our initial experience with SLADER, while rather limited, is very encouraging. A group of thirty
university students were asked to use the questionnaires of SLADER and provide their opinions about the
project. In general, the students would have preferred more questions on each topic. Also, most students
liked the environment of SLADER. Some data was also collected from this small group. For example,
40-50% get drunk even when they intended not to, have friends who are "heavy" drinkers, have tried to
excuse some behaviour because they were drunk and have either missed classes or work, or given less than
acceptable performance because of drinking. 27% of the students have experienced "blackouts", that is a
period of time when they could not recall anything that happened, while drinking. None of these students
have ever switched from one drink to another, hoping this would help them "cut down" or keep from
getting drunk. 63% of the students thought incorrectly that marijuana is a narcotic. 33% of the students
thought that marijuana in 1993 has the same potency as it did in 1969, while marijuana is actually much
more potent today. Finally, the average stress level of these students was 52%, placing them in a
relatively safe category with regards to heart problems.
SLADER will most likely begin its "regular" use on the Acadia University campus in Wolfville,
Nova Scotia, Canada, as well as within the regional alcohol and drug addiction services known as Crosbie
Centre in Kentville, Nova Scotia. Initially, these places will provide access to university or college
students only. This will allow us to test more thoroughly the credibility and usefulness of our project.
Eventually, we would like to continue this project to include information for all age groups, including
young children, junior high school students, adults and the elderly.

Bibliography
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Publishers, 1989.
[MAU90] Maurer, H., Tomek, I. Hyper-G - A Survey. Report 284, IIG, Graz University of
Technology, 1990.
[MER89] Merill, D., Li, Z. and Jones M. Limitations of First Generation Instructional Design.
Educational Technology, Jan. 1990.
[MIN90] Straight Facts About Drugs & Drug Abuse. Really me: Action On Drug Abuse. Published by
authority of the Minister of National Health and Welfare. Minister of Supply and Services,
Canada, 1990
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[MUL93a] Müldner, T. NEATWARE Reference Manual. Technical Report, Jodrey School of Computer
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[MUL93b] Müldner, T. NEAT Reference Manual. Technical Report, Jodrey School of Computer Science,
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