September 27, 1999
On behalf of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), I would like to welcome you to NIDA: Celebrating a Quarter Century of Scientific Progress. NIDA's yearlong celebration of the Institute's founding culminates with this daylong symposium. We are pleased to highlight some of our past, present, and future research accomplishments that continue to revolutionize how we as a society approach drug abuse and addiction.
NIDA was established in 1974 to bring the power of science to bear on the Nation's drug abuse problems. The Institute's first 25 years have been marked by groundbreaking scientific discoveries about the nature of drug abuse and addiction, and what to do about them. Together, these discoveries have firmly established that addiction is a quintessential biobehavioral disorderŅa brain disease with embedded behavioral and social aspects.
At the time of NIDA's inception, many people incorrectly viewed drug addiction as simply a moral problem. Today, thanks to the research accomplishments of thousands of scientists, a sampling of which are gathered here today, we have moved far beyond simplistic ideologies to a better understanding of the complex biological, behavioral, and social components of drug abuse and addiction. We now know that while initial experimentation with drugs may be voluntary, continuing drug use changes the brain in fundamental and long-lasting ways. These brain changes underlie the compulsive drug-seeking and drug-taking behaviors that are the hallmarks of drug addiction.
The power of science has not only disproved ideologies, myths, and superstitions about drug abuse and addiction, but has reduced the harmful individual, social, and public health consequences of this destructive disease. We at NIDA are proud of our scientific accomplishments and tremendous progress we have made thus far. We see today's program as an opportunity to reflect on our past accomplishments and to embark upon a new millennium of promise.
Alan I. Leshner, Ph.D.
[25th Anniversary Symposium Page]