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After Hurricane Katrina: Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Grantee Meeting



Neuroscience Center
Rockville, Maryland
October 29, 2008

NIDA Organizer(s):
Bethany Griffin Deeds, Ph.D., M.A.
Yonette F. Thomas, Ph.D.

Meeting Purpose and Intent:

The destruction from national disasters can create macro-level changes like economic and social dislocation that impact the public's health. Population displacement can also affect the social and risk network patterns among individuals who relocate to other geographic locations and could potentially increase risk behaviors that adversely affect health and produce both short and long-term consequences. Though research suggests that natural disasters can increase the occurrence of psychiatric disorders, domestic violence and substance use among individuals who have experienced them, limited evidence details the extant of these consequences.

The goals of this meeting were to:

  • Discuss preliminary research findings from grantees conducting Hurricane Katrina and Rita related research;
  • Share research activities, accomplishes and challenges; and
  • Create an opportunity for grantees to network and discuss future collaborations and research activities related to natural disasters and substance use.

Brief Discussion of Meeting Outcome:

Meeting participants presented on the following developing research areas including:

  1. Situational Adaptations to Katrina and HIV Risk (Lloyd Goldsamt, Ph.D., National Development and Research Institutes, Inc.)
    Presenters reported on a Community Assessment Process (CAP) that briefly described the geographic, temporal and social distribution of street drug use in post-Katrina New Orleans, particularly in relation to use of heroin, cocaine and crack-cocaine.
  2. Disruption and Reformulation of Illicit Drug Markets Among New Orleans Evacuees (Eloise Dunlap, Ph.D., Bruce Johnson, Ph.D.,, National Development and Research Institutes, Inc.)
    Investigators reported initial findings from their ethnography study of how illicit drug markets function in the wake of a major disaster and reformulate afterward. Initial focus group data was reviewed from New Orleans and Houston.
  3. Substance Use and Other Health Consequences Among Katrina Evacuees in Houston (Avelardo Valdez, Ph.D., University of Houston)
    The presentation summarized preliminary findings on outcomes of substance use and abuse patterns, drug treatment utilization, sexual and drug risk behaviors from an evacuee sample in Houston, TX.
  4. Impact of Louisiana Hurricanes on Adolescent Substance Abuse (Luanne Rohrbach, Ph.D., University of Southern California, Los Angeles)
    Presenters shared a variety of initial data including an examination of whether PTSD symptomatology mediates the relationship between exposure to Hurricane Rita and substance use and abuse.
  5. Population-Based Assessment of Post-Katrina Smoking Behavior (Kenneth Ward, Ph.D., University of Memphis)
    This presentation described preliminary data from a population-based, longitudinal, controlled survey using a telephone interview, comparing relapse rates and characteristics among former smokers who were most severely impacted by Hurricane Katrina (New Orleans residents) and residents of a nearby community that was not severely impacted by the hurricane (Memphis, TN).
  6. Hurricane Katrina Effects on Female Adolescent Offenders (Connie Baird Thomas, Ph.D., Mississippi State University)
    Presenters summarized initial analyses investigating how Hurricane Katrina affected substance abuse, delinquency/crime and sexual risk behaviors among a group of female adolescent offenders who were incarcerated in Mississippi.
  7. General Discussion (facilitated by Drs. Deeds and Thomas)
    The meeting concluded with a dialogue of the most pressing challenges facing the researchers working with substance abuse populations affected by a disaster, as well as a broad discussion of future collaborations and research activities related to natural disasters and substance use.

Speakers and Participants (PDF Format, 132kb)
Agenda (PDF Format, 148kb)





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