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Director's Report to the National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse
February, 1996

Media and Education Activities

Secretary's Marijuana Prevention Initiative Support

In support of the Secretary's Initiative, NIDA's new marijuana videotape and two new marijuana brochures for parents and teens were distributed to every school district in the country (16,000) and they are now being actively marketed to the general public and television broadcasters.

NIDA also funded the production of educational posters by the Weekly Reader for elementary and high school students and teachers, in English and Spanish, on the dangers of marijuana use. These posters also contain a message from the Secretary and have been distributed to 235,000 classrooms across the country.

NIDA helped fund the production of two anti-marijuana television public service announcements by the Media Advertising Partnership for a Drug Free America. The ads, targeting young teens, were released in December. They are also being supplemented with a number of print ads for parents and teens, all of which market our booklets and video.

Press Conference

December 15, 1995: Secretary Shalala released findings from the Monitoring the Future (MTF) Survey, funded by NIDA for the past 21 years. For 1995, MTF showed both a continued increase in drug use and a decrease in its perceived harmfulness. The Secretary challenged all parents and caring adults to open a dialogue about the harmfulness of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco with this "generation at risk." Other press conference speakers were Dr. Lee Brown, former Director of ONDCP; Deputy Secretary of Education Madeleine Kunin; Lloyd Johnston, principal investigator; and Vicki Rafel, National PTA Health & Welfare Commissioner.

Press Releases & Media Advisories

  • September 19, HHS Press Release, Statement by Philip R. Lee, M.D., HHS Assistant Secretary for Health In response to the release of the Institute of Medicine report, Preventing HIV Transmission: The Role of Sterile Needles and Bleach, Dr. Lee emphasized that HIV transmission through injection drug use is a significant part of the AIDS epidemic, and that the needle exchange programs being carried out in 77 communities in 20 States are viewed by the Public Health Service as opportunities to learn more about the effects of such efforts. NIDA assisted in the preparation of the press release, and responded to a number of related media inquiries.

  • October 18, National Drug Institute Makes Plea to Entertainment Industry that Drug Addiction be Depicted Accurately NIDA Director, Dr. Alan Leshner, invited by the Entertainment Industries Council to speak before their Depiction Committee, stressed the need for and social responsibility of the industry to help convey an accurate view of drug abuse and addiction.

    Dr. Leshner emphasized that perceptions on drug abuse and addiction as public health problems and social issues have not kept pace with knowledge gained from advances in science on the nature and treatment of abuse and addiction.

  • October 30, Research Units Open to Evaluate Medications for the Treatment of Cocaine and Heroin Addiction NIDA and the Department of Veterans Affairs have established a network of Substance Abuse Medication Development Research Units (MRDUs) at VA Medical Centers in Boston, Cincinnati, New York/Northport, Philadelphia, and West Los Angeles. The clinical research conducted at the MRDUs will focus on identifying and developing medications to treat cocaine addiction and its health consequences.

  • November 15, Study Shows Long Term Negative Consequences of Prenatal Exposure to Phenobarbital Men prenatally exposed to phenobarbital have significantly lower intelligence scores than those not exposed during their mother's pregnancy, according to Dr. June Machover Reinisch and colleagues at Indiana University's Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction. Although Dr. Reinisch's study involves a legally prescribed drug, the findings highlight the profound effects of prenatal drug use on the health and development of children. Findings from the study, which was funded in part by NIDA, were published in the November 15, 1995 issue of JAMA.

  • November 30, New Brain Neurotransmitter Discovered "Orphanin FQ," a previously unknown neuropeptide in the brain, was discovered by NIDA-funded scientists at Oregon Health Science University in collaboration with researchers in Switzerland. Orphanin FQ may represent a whole new class of neurotransmitters that seem similar to opioid drugs, but do not function like them. Orphanin FQ is a neurotransmitter that turns on a recently discovered opioid receptor that is related to the targets of heroin and morphine action, but which had very little affinity for most opiate drugs. According to Dr. Leshner, "This discovery opens a new line of research and begins to elucidate receptor systems extending beyond those for the classical opiate drugs." The findings were reported in the November 3, 1995 issue of Science.

  • December 14, Immunization Found to Effectively Block Effects of Cocaine Researchers Janda, Carrera, and Koob at The Scripps Research Institute prevented cocaine from entering the brain when rats were "vaccinated" with a substance that triggers the body to produce antibodies to cocaine. The compound was designed so that the antibodies produced would respond specifically to the cocaine molecule yet not affect normal brain chemistry. The researchers found a greater than 70% reduction in cocaine in the brains of rats inoculated with the compound as compared to the group not inoculated. The findings were reported in the December 14, 1995 issue of Nature.


In the past several months NIDA has exhibited at the following meetings:

  • 9th Annual Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities - October 1-3, 1995, New York, NY.

  • Annual Meeting of the National Association of Social Workers - October 12-15, 1995, Philadelphia, PA.

  • American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry - October 17-22, 1995, New Orleans, LA.

  • Expanding Role of Neurobiology in Addiction Medicine - October 19-21, 1995, Washington, D.C.

  • American Public Health Association - October 29-November 2, 1995, San Diego, CA.

  • National Methadone Conference - November 1-4, 1995, Phoenix, AZ.

  • Community Anti-Drug Coalition of America-National Leadership Forum - November 2-4, 1995, Washington, D.C.

  • Association of Medical Education and Research in Substance Abuse - November 9-11, 1995, Washington, D.C.

  • Society for Neuroscience Annual Conference - November 11-16, 1995, San Diego, CA.

  • National Perinatal Association - November 16-19, 1995, Crystal City, VA.

Planned Meetings

A meeting of data analysts from NIDA's Cooperative Agreement for AIDS Community Based Outreach/Intervention Research Program will be held in February to identify appropriate HIV risk variables and computer code libraries for use across multiple HIV intervention sites.

NIDA will co-sponsor the North Carolina Governor's Institute on Alcohol and Substance Abuse regional conference entitled "Advancing Substance Abuse Treatment: Applying Current Research." Other co-sponsors include Virginia Commonwealth University, the Medical University of South Carolina, Bowman Gray School of Medicine, and the American Society of Addiction Medicine. This conference will be held on February 14-16, 1996 at the Holiday Inn Four Seasons hotel in Greensboro, N.C. Program faculty include the following NIDA staff who will be making presentations: Roger Brown, Ph.D.; Dorynne Czechowicz, M.D.; and Cora Lee Wetherington, Ph.D. Dorynne Czechowicz, M.D.,TRB, DCSR has represented NIDA on the Conference Planning Committee.

On February 26, NIDA will be convening a Health Services Research Planning Meeting with State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors at the Bethesda Marriott Hotel in Bethesda, Maryland. This meeting will be the latest in a series of meetings we have sponsored to help shape NIDA's research agenda. The purpose is to solicit innovative research ideas and strategies in a particular area of drug abuse research by inviting participants to think broadly and expansively. For this meeting, we are specifically interested in obtaining the input of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors about what health services research issues NIDA needs to address, what questions need to be answered, and how NIDA can make the results of our health services research program useful and easily accessible.

Staff of NIDA's Services Research Branch, DCSR are planning a conference with the National Institute of Justice on Research Strategies for Treatment Drug Courts (scheduled for February/March 1996).

Staff of the Services Research Branch, DCSR, and other NIDA staff and grantees, will conduct a half-day symposium on Drug Abuse Managed Care Research on June 9, at the annual meeting of the Association for Health Services Research (Atlanta, GA June 9-11).

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