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Drugs: The Straight Facts (5-part series)

Distributed by Films Media Group, PO Box 2053, Princeton, New Jersey 08543-2053; 800-257-5126
Produced by Craig Claudin
Director n/a
DVD, color, 17 – 20 mins. Each
Jr. High - Adult
Health Sciences

Reviewed by Kay Hogan Smith, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences

Date Entered: 1/7/2011

This series of short educational films attempts to explain the basic physiological and psychiatric properties as well as social history of recreational drugs. It is generally successful in this goal, with some notable shortcomings. Each part in the series focuses on a specific drug, marijuana, alcohol, cocaine and crack, narcotics and inhalants. “Students,” presumably elementary school to young adults, are the stated audience for the series, although parents might find the films enlightening as well. The series’ strong suit is in its reliance on dispassionate appeals to viewers’ intelligence and common sense rather than scare tactics or overt preachiness. The experts interviewed in the films, mostly from government drug abuse or other scientific organizations, explain the physical effects of each drug or drug class in plain terms without talking down to the audience. There are also interesting tidbits provided about the long history of the use of most of these drugs, and how that use fit in to the overall culture and events of the time period.

This reviewer’s concern about the series has to do with the intended audience and the use of repetitious snippets sprinkled throughout the segments. Kids are themselves experts at poking holes in adults’ agendas, using whatever tools are at hand. It is easy to imagine their scorn at the repeated clips of portrayed abuse and expert testimony, when a particular drug is supposedly the focus of the effort. This concern is not enough to warrant dismissal of the series, which is excellent in other respects. It is only a caution for teachers or other group leaders to consider in planned viewings. (Possibly, this objection could be mitigated by spacing each segment’s viewing over an extended time period.) Overall, a worthy purchase for school libraries, despite its flaws.