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National Institute on Drug Abuse

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

February, 1998


Media and Education Activities


Press Releases


December 20, 1997 -Drug Use Survey Shows Mixed Results for Nation's Youth -Use Among Younger Adolescents Appears to be Slowing. HHS/NIDA released the results of the 23rd annual Monitoring the Future Survey showing that after years of dramatic increases, illicit drug use among eighth graders remained stable for most drugs and decreased slightly for marijuana, cigarettes, and certain other substances. The survey found general stability among the proportion of high school seniors and 10th graders using most illicit drugs although there were some increases, generally, in lifetime use. (The Monitoring the Future study was released by President Clinton during his December 20 radio address. On December 19, Dr. Leshner joined General McCaffrey, Secretary Shalala for a press briefing on the study findings.)

December 15, 1997 -New Research Documents Success of Drug Abuse Treatments. At least four major types of drug abuse treatment can be extremely effective in reducing drug use, producing decreases in illegal acts and increases in full-time work. These and other findings from the Drug Abuse Treatment Outcome Study (DATOS) were published in the December volume of Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.

December 4, 1997 -NIDA Infofax, Science-based Facts on Drug Abuse and Addiction. NIDA Infofax, a new information resource of science-based facts about drug abuse and addiction was announced at NIDA's Fourth Annual Constituent Conference. Infofax offers fact sheets via fax-on-demand, mail or TTY; access 24 hours a day in English, Spanish or TTY; and brief audio messages on drugs of abuse and other topics.

November 19, 1997 -NIH Consensus Panel Recommends Expanding Access to and Improving Methadone Treatment Programs for Heroin Addiction. The NIH consensus panel strongly recommended broader access to methadone maintenance treatment programs for people who are addicted to heroin or other opiate drugs and that the Federal and State regulations and other barriers impeding this access be eliminated.

October 8, 1997 -New Science-Based Drug Education Materials Available for Students and Teachers. Dr. Alan I. Leshner, NIDA Director announces the availability of Mind Over Matter, a new series of drug education materials for students in grades five through nine. Six colorful, oversized, glossy magazines that unfold into posters explore the effects drugs have on the brain and also help encourage student interest in science.

September 29, 1997 -Preventing and Treating Heroin Use is Focus of National Research Conference. HHS Secretary Donna Shalala, General Barry McCaffrey, and Dr. Alan Leshner issued a challenge to over 500 attendees representing national drug abuse organizations, prevention and treatment practitioners, the media, criminal justice and law enforcement personnel, and policy makers, to use available research to respond to the changing problem of heroin use in the U.S. Secretary Shalala and General McCaffrey delivered keynote addresses at the first national research-based conference on heroin use and addiction, sponsored by NIDA and held at the Sheraton Washington Hotel in Washington, D.C., September 29 and 30, 1997.

September 25, 1997 -New Imaging Techniques Provide Brain Map of Cocaine-Induced Euphoria and Craving. Using advanced brain imaging techniques, researchers from Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital have identified the brain circuits activated during the distinct experiences which follow cocaine use. Their research shows that different regions of the brain are activated during a cocaine "rush", cocaine "high", and cocaine craving. The results of this study were published in the September 25 issue of Neuron.

August 8, 1997 -NIH Releases Panel's Report on the Possible Medical Uses of Marijuana. NIH has made available the report of the group of experts it convened February 19-20, 1997, to review the scientific data concerning the potential therapeutic uses for marijuana and the need for, and feasibility of, additional research.


Other Press Activities


Print Media


January 4, 1998 -Associated Press Wire Story -Human Experiments Use MRI; Doctors Map Cocaine's Effects on the Brain. Dr. Leshner was interviewed by AP Science Editor, Daniel Haney for this story that was disseminated to newspapers nationwide.

December 1997 -Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinel Features NIDA staff and research in editorial series. Drs. Leshner and Sloboda were interviewed by Sun Sentinel editorial writer, Jim Driscoll, for a five-part series of editorials on aspects of drug abuse and addiction. The series featured Dr. Leshner's discussion of the nature of addiction and the needs of those who are addicted. Dr. Sloboda spoke at length about prevention research findings and how they can be applied in a variety of communities. The Sun Sentinel has the second largest circulation in Florida.

October 20, 1997 -Editorial Board Meeting, Philadelphia Daily News Dr. Leshner met with editors of the Philadelphia Daily News while in Philadelphia for the NIDA Town Meeting. Dr. Leshner was also interviewed by the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Exponent, and the New Scientist while in Philadelphia.

October 20, 1997 -Straight Talk Magazine Reprint Straight Talk is a health-oriented magazine distributed to high school seniors nationwide. A special reprint of an issue featuring a student interview with Dr. Leshner was produced and distributed at the Philadelphia Town Meeting as well as at NIDA exhibits and Science Education seminars.

September 29-30, 1997 -NIDA's National Heroin Conference NIDA maintained a press room and support for press attending and covering the Heroin Conference. Over 20 journalists registered and attended the conference. Numerous print articles appeared in papers nationwide, including an article in the New York Times on the conference and research presented during the conference.

November 1997 -Washingtonian Magazine Dr. Leshner was interviewed for a feature article by Harry Jaffe entitled "Not in This House", a story of drug use in the Washington metropolitan area.


Broadcast Media


October 8, 1997 -Dr. Leshner was interviewed by Minnesota Public Radio, the largest broadcast radio station in the Midwest, at their studios in St. Paul. Dr. Leshner spoke on understanding drug abuse and addiction, new findings on prevention and treatment, and NIDA's new science education materials.

November 16, 1997 -Dr. Leshner appeared on WRC TV "Viewpoint" a local weekly public affairs program. He participated on a panel to discuss teen drug use, particularly in the Washington metropolitan area and ways to prevent drug use.


Special Projects


December 2-3 -Launch of NIDA Infofax

NIDA's newest information dissemination system was introduced at the Fourth Annual Constituent Conference in Lansdowne, Virginia. By calling a 24-hour toll-free number (1-888-NIH-NIDA or -644-6432), any individual can access research-based fact sheets on 40 topics, in English or Spanish. Callers have the option of receiving fact sheets by either fax or mail, and may also listen to brief audio messages on each topic. The system accommodates the hearing-impaired at 1-888-TTY-NIDA or -889-6432. NIDA Infofax is the first network-based system of its kind at NIH and the third in the Federal government.

September 1997 -The Essence of Drug Addiction

Dr. Leshner's article on addiction was distributed to newspapers nationwide. To date, 200 newspapers in 12 different states with a readership of 8.2 million have run the article.


Science Education


Launch of "Mind of Matter" Educational Series, October 8, 1997.

Dr. Alan Leshner launched NIDA's latest science education materials, Mind Over Matter at the Annual Conference of the National Association of Biology Teachers in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Developed as part of NIDA's Science Education Program, Mind Over Matter is a six part magazine series that uses a brightly colored format to explore the brain's response to drugs. It prompts students to think about the effects of drugs on their brains and seeks to discourage drug use by children. In addition, this series contains an underlying message that neuroscience is a challenging and exciting field and anyone, regardless of race or sex, can become a scientist. The six magazines focus on marijuana, opiates, inhalants, steroids, stimulants, and hallucinogens. On the reverse of the unfolded magazines is an artistic photograph of a brain image with a quotation that inspires curiosity about science. The series includes a comprehensive teacher's guide that provides additional information about each of the drugs, as well as classroom activities that can be used to reinforce the concepts in the magazine.

Slide Teaching Packet Now Available on the NIDA Website.

In response to the overwhelming number of requests for NIDA's Slide teaching Packet for Scientists: The Brain and the Actions of Cocaine, Opiates, and Marijuana, the packet is now available on NIDA's home page. Detailed instructions are provided for those wishing to make either slides or overheads. Although developed for neuroscientists to use when speaking to high school students, the teaching packet has become popular with both high school and college teachers.


Planned Meetings


National Conference on Drug Abuse Treatment: From Research to Practice will be held on April 8-9, 1998 at the Sheraton Washington Hotel in Washington D.C. Among the highlights at this major NIDA conference will be an update on models of effective drug abuse treatment; a discussion of effective behavioral and pharmacological drug abuse treatments; and an overview of the state of current research on special populations.

Cognition and Emotion: Applications to Drug Abuse, a miniconvention sponsored by NIDA's Behavioral Science Working Group with the American Psychological Society will occur on the day preceding the 10th anniversary meeting of the APS, on Thursday May 21, 1998 at the Washington (D.C.) Hilton. This followup to last year's Cognitive Science meeting will focus on emotion, mood, and arousal as important modulators of decision making and judgment, and by extension to risky and impulsive behavior surrounding drug initiation and relapse. Leading researchers in cognition, decision theory and emotional factors will be featured at the miniconvention, including Alan Marlatt, George Loewenstein, Antoine Bechara, Alice Isen and Damaris Rohsenow, among others.

Addicted to Nicotine: Recent Research on Causes, Prevention and Treatment will be held on July 27-28, 1998 in the Natcher Auditorium (NIH Campus, Bethesda. MD). This 2-day national conference will present the latest research findings on the behavioral, cognitive and neurobiological sources of nicotine addiction, prevention of tobacco product use and dependence, and state of-the art treatment strategies. The conference will be comprised of several multidisciplinary symposia and keynote speakers.


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