National Institute on Drug Abuse
Director's Report to the National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse
Media and Education Activities
NIDA recently collaborated with Scholastic Magazine to produce
a set of science education materials for elementary school students. The
materials, which include a classroom poster, an eight page teaching guide
and a take home guide for parents, provide information on inhalants, nicotine
and marijuana. The materials were mailed to 73,000 third through sixth grade
teachers and 2.3 million students in November.
NIDA Director, Dr. Alan Leshner was joined by NIH Director, Dr. Harold
Varmus, ONDCP Director, General Barry McCaffrey for the dedication of
NIDA's Brain Imaging Center on December 16. Principals were interviewed
by CNN and Associated Press following the ribbon cutting ceremony.
Press Conference to release findings from the 1996 Monitoring the Future
Study. On December 19, Dr. Leshner joined DHHS Secretary Donna Shalala,
Transportation Secretary Frederico Pena, Education Secretary, Richard Riley,
ONDCP Director, General Barry McCaffrey, and Dr. Lloyd Johnston for the
release of the 1996 Monitoring the Future Study which showed continued increases
in drug and cigarette use among young people.
September 19: Effective Drug Abuse Prevention Programs Released at
National Conference of Researchers and Practitioners. Secretary Donna
Shalala and ONDCP Director General McCaffrey joined Dr. Leshner for NIDA's
National conference on Prevention.
October 7: Chronic Morphine Use Produces Visible Changes in Brain.
Study by scientists at Yale University School of Medicine provides the first
direct evidence that long-term, chronic opiate exposure is associated with
structural changes in both the size and shape of specific neurons in the
brain. The study was published in the October 1 issue of the Proceedings
of the National Academy of Sciences.
October 10: Scientists Discover New Brain System that Counters Effects
of Opioid Drugs. NIDA funded researchers at the Oregon Health Sciences
University have discovered a neuronal system in the brain that modulates
and opposes the action of the brain's own opioid system. These findings
appeared in the October 3 issue of Neuroscience.
October 11: Early Pregnancy Halted By Chemicals in Marijuana. NIDA
funded researchers at the University of Kansas have determined a link between
activation of the biological receptors that respond to cannabinoids, the
psychoactive ingredients in marijuana and abrupt interruption of pregnancy
at a very early stage.
The research reported in the October issue of Biology of Reproduction, suggests
that exposure of embryos to the cannabionoids can often prevent the embryos
from attaching to the uterine wall.
October 14: Scientists Identify Brain Systems Involved in Drug Craving.
Researchers at NIDA and Yale University have identified major areas of the
brain activated during drug craving by cocaine addicts. Using PET, scientists
visualized changes in the brain triggered by environmental cues that are
associated with past experiences of using drugs and that lead to drug craving,
even when no drug is available. The study is published in the October 15
issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
October 18: NIDA Town Meetings in St. Louis Area Present Latest Scientific
Findings About Drug Abuse and Addiction. On October 28 and 29, NIDA
held two town meetings hosted by Dr. Leshner, to present the latest scientific
information available to prevent and treat drug abuse and addiction.
October 31: New Action-Oriented Drug Education Materials Now Available
to Parents, Teachers and Students. NIDA and Scholastic Inc. have joined
forces to help parents, teachers, and students arm themselves with knowledge
in the fight against drug abuse. A classroom poster and teaching guide,
and a 4 page parent take home guide provide important science based information
about drug abuse and addiction to more than 73,000 third through sixth grade
teachers and 2.3 million students. The materials were included in the November
1 issue of Scholastic News.
November 19: New Drug Prevention Program Helps Student Athletes Avoid
Steroids Use. NIDA announced a new drug prevention and education program
called ATLAS (Adolescents Training and Learning to Avoid Steroids) which
demonstrated that students in the program had enhanced health behaviors,
reduced factors that encourage steroid use, and lower intent to use steroids.
The study results were published in the November 20 issue of the Journal
of the American Medical Association.
November 22: NIDA Names New Scientific Director. NIDA Director announced
the appointment of Barry J. Hoffer, M.D., Ph.D., as Scientific Director
and Director of NIDA's Division of Intramural Research.
November 27: Methamphetamine Abuse, Consequences and Solutions Topics
of Regional Conference In San Francisco. NIDA held a two-day conference
in San Francisco on methamphetamine abuse, its resulting consequences and
solutions to the problem on December 2-3 at the Laurel Heights Conference
Center of the University of California-San Francisco.
November 29: New Brain Studies Yield Insights Into Cocaine Binging and
Addiction. NIDA funded scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory
have identified some of the unique properties of cocaine that account for
the binging pattern of use exhibited by cocaine addicts. The study shows
that repeated and frequent activation of the dopaminergic system by cocaine
results in an abnormal state in one of the brain's neural circuits. This
study is published in the winter 1996 issue of the Journal of Addictive
OTHER PRESS ACTIVITY
San Francisco Editorial Board Meetings - On December 3, Dr. Leshner
held an editorial board meeting with editors of the San Francisco Chronicle.
On December 4, Dr. Leshner held an editorial board meeting with editors
of the San Francisco Examiner.
Methamphetamine Meeting, San Francisco, CA - While in San Francisco,
Dr. Leshner conducted several interviews on NIDA's research on methamphetamine
St. Louis Editorial Board Meeting - On October 29, Dr. Leshner held
an editorial board meeting with editors of the St. Louis Dispatch. Dr. Leshner
was also interviewed for stories in the Dispatch and local papers about
his two presentations in St. Louis.
Secretary's Marijuana Prevention Initiative Support - In support
of the Secretary's initiative, NIDA conducted meetings in Fairfax County,
Virginia schools and in Montgomery County, Maryland schools. Dr. Alan Leshner
spoke at each meeting to encourage the attendees and media to reach large
numbers of the population with the message that "there is clear scientific
evidence that marijuana is a dangerous drug that can impair learning and
affect memory, perception, judgment, and complex motor skills such as those
needed to drive." The meetings were attended by community leaders,
parents, law enforcement officials, students, and educators. They were carried
live on local cable; segments were used on CNN; and the Washington Post
did a major article in its Week Ender Magazine.
NIDA has exhibited at the following meetings or conferences over the
last several months:
COSSMHO 11th Biennial Health and Human Services Conference on Drugs
September 9-12, 1996
Santa Fe, New Mexico
National Conference on Drug Abuse Prevention Research
September 19-20, 1996
National Nurses Society on Addictions
October 2-5, 1996
Psychopathology, Psychopharmacology, Substance Abuse and Culture
October 10-12, 1996
Los Angeles, California
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Annual Meeting
October 22-27, 1996
Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science
October 24-27, 1996
NIDA Town Meeting
October 28-29, 1996
St. Louis, Missouri
Association of Medical Education and Research in Substance Abuse
November 7-9, 1996
National Association of Social Workers
November 13-16, 1996
Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America
November 14-16, 1996
America Indian Science and Engineering Society
November 14-17, 1996
Salt Lake City, Utah
Society for Neuroscience Annual Conference
November 16-17, 1996
American Public Health Association
November 17-21, 1996
New York, New York
NIDA Third Annual Constituent Conference
November 25-26, 1996
American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry
December 6-7, 1996
San Francisco, California
American Society for Cell Biology
December 7-11, 1996
San Francisco, California
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