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National Institute on Drug Abuse -  NIDA NOTES
Bulletin Board
Volume 13, Number 5 (February, 1999)

Director Named For International Program

Dr. Dr. Patricia Needle has been named director of NIDA's International Program in the Office of Science Policy and Communications. Previously, she served as acting director for the Program. As director, Dr. Needle oversees all of NIDA's international activities, events, and cooperative efforts both with other Federal Government agencies and with agencies in other countries.

Through the International Program, NIDA supports international drug abuse research, policy, and program development. The International Visiting Scientist and Technical Exchange (INVEST) program, which funds international postdoctoral fellowships, scientific exchange, and dissemination of NIDA research activities, comes under the Program's umbrella. The International Program also coordinates activities with the U.S. State Department, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the United States Information Agency. In addition, the Program participates in projects with organizations such as the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and the Organization of American States.

Previously, Dr. Needle served as director of the University of Minnesota China Center and special advisor to the university's International Program for 13 years.

Heroin, Marijuana, Methamphetamine Use On the Rise

Cocaine use appears to have leveled off, but use of heroin, marijuana, and methamphetamine is on the increase, according to data reported at the June 1998 meeting of the Community Epidemiology Work Group (CEWG). CEWG is a NIDA-supported network of researchers from 21 U.S. metropolitan areas who review drug abuse data and evaluate information compiled from local, city, State, and Federal sources. Major indicators of drug abuse monitored by CEWG include drug-related deaths and emergency room admissions, drug abuse treatment admissions, and drug-positive urinalysis results in persons arrested.

  • Cocaine. While abuse of crack cocaine remains the Nation's predominant illicit drug problem, data show a continued leveling off of use in many urban areas. Indicators of cocaine use declined in 16 of the 21 CEWG areas.

  • Heroin. Indicators of heroin use increased in 16 of the 21 CEWG areas. Intranasal heroin abuse, or "snorting," has become increasingly popular. Data from several cities show increases in use among youth and young adults. The suburbs are increasingly mentioned, with young white professionals, laborers, and high school students from the suburbs noticed in the inner cities buying drugs.

  • Methamphetamine. Indicators of methamphetamine use increased in 8 of the 21 CEWG areas, including 4 areas where methamphetamine use previously had been stable or in decline. Smoking the drug has become popular in some cities, but injection remains the predominant method of use.

  • Marijuana. Indicators of marijuana use increased in 15 of the 21 CEWG areas, primarily among youth. Alcohol remains the most popular secondary drug reported with marijuana use, but other drug combinations also continue to be reported. Marijuana cigarettes are sometimes combined with cocaine, methamphetamine, phencyclidine (PCP), embalming fluid, or codeine cough syrup, according to reports from various CEWG cities.

Prenatal Cocaine Exposure Costs at Least $352 Million Per Year

Prevention of cocaine or crack use during pregnancy could save $352 million per year, according to a study by researchers at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. The research, which analyzed data from eight longitudinal studies of school-age children prenatally exposed to cocaine, was reported in the October 23 issue of Science.

The study, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, found that up to 80,550 children will have subtle deficits in IQ and language development as a result of prenatal exposure to cocaine. Special education to keep them from failing in school will cost at least $352 million per year nationwide, researchers estimate.

"These figures are underestimates," notes Dr. Barry Lester, NIDA grantee and lead member of the research team. "These are costs attributable only to new cases each year, and do not include the accumulating costs and burdens associated with annual additions."

"Every dollar of prevention saves five times that amount in treatment and other costs to society," says NIDA Director Dr. Alan I. Leshner. "This study emphasizes the need for more drug abuse prevention efforts, particularly those directed at women of child-bearing age. The findings also argue for early identification and intervention for children most at risk for developing these problems."

NIDA NOTES - Volume 13, Number 5

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