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National Institute on Drug Abuse

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

February, 1997

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.

Press Conferences

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.

Media Advisories

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 Diseases.

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 abuse.

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 Exhibits

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
Washington, D.C.

National Nurses Society on Addictions
October 2-5, 1996
Orlando, Florida

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
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science
October 24-27, 1996
Washington, D.C.

NIDA Town Meeting
October 28-29, 1996
St. Louis, Missouri

Association of Medical Education and Research in Substance Abuse
November 7-9, 1996
Reston, Virginia

National Association of Social Workers
November 13-16, 1996
Cleveland, Ohio

Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America
November 14-16, 1996
Washington, D.C.

America Indian Science and Engineering Society
November 14-17, 1996
Salt Lake City, Utah

Society for Neuroscience Annual Conference
November 16-17, 1996
Washington, D.C.

American Public Health Association
November 17-21, 1996
New York, New York

NIDA Third Annual Constituent Conference
November 25-26, 1996
Leesburg, Virginia

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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