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National Institute on Drug Abuse

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

February, 1999

Media and Education Activities

NIDA Goes to School

NIDA's new national science education initiative, NIDA Goes To School, was launched on November 21, 1998 at the National Leadership Forum of the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, Washington, D.C. NIDA Goes To School is designed to bring to the Nation's educators the latest scientific information about how drugs of abuse affect the brain and to give them effective, accurate tools to use in teaching their students. As part of the initiative, an initial mailing sent to every public and private middle school in the country (nearly 19,000), including American schools at military bases overseas, featured NIDA's award-winning MIND OVER MATTER materials. NIDA has also created a NIDA Goes To School website featuring information specially geared to students and teachers. As new science education materials are developed, they will be added to this website.


NIDA's Nicotine Conference materials won a Silver Certificate in the Mercury Awards given by MerComm, Inc., for excellence in public relations and corporate communications. The Nicotine Conference materials package was put together for the national conference, "Addicted to Nicotine, a National Research Forum," held on July 27-28, 1998.

Media Activities

September 23 & 24, 1998 - Emotional Memory and Drug Addiction, Molecular and Cellular Basis of Emotional Memory, Bethesda, MD. Conducted outreach for selected press to attend the Emotional Memory meeting -- Denise Grady of The New York Times and Beth Azar of the APA Monitor attended and the agenda and papers were sent to other journalists.

October 14, 1998 - Iowa Town Meeting, Des Moines, Iowa. NIDA experienced the most press coverage of any town meeting. Crews from ABC and CBS affiliates and Iowa Public TV were among the eight broadcast venues at the meeting. Print reporters represented The Des Moines Register, the Associated Press, the Omaha World Herald, and local Illinois papers.

October 20 and November 9, 1998 - Why Do Sally and Johnny Use Drugs?, a bylined piece by NIDA Director, Dr. Alan Leshner, appeared in the Washington Times and the Los Angeles Times. In addition, Dr. Leshner was interviewed by Abby Trafford, editor of the Washington Post's Health Section, for her December 15, 1998 column. The original article has also been distributed via a syndicated editorial service to over 1,000 small newspapers throughout the country and will start appearing in January 1999.

November 2, 1998 - Dr. Leshner was invited back to Des Moines by Iowa Public TV producers to participate in the award-winning series, Student Voices. This show was broadcast live to students through the State of Iowa's communications network with schools.

November 22, 1998 - A letter by Dr. Leshner to the Editor of the Boston Globe appeared in rebuttal to a previous letter about the effects of using marijuana.

Dr. Frank Vocci, Director, MDD, was interviewed for an article "Seeking Ways to Crack Cocaine Addiction", that appeared in the October 17, 1998 issue of The Lancet.

Dr. Barbara Herman, MDD, was pictured and quoted in Szalavitz, M. "Brain Power. Memory Research Could Help Addicts and Stroke Victims." Newsday, December 8, 1998. This article related to research indicating the role of glutamate and excitatory amino acids in a variety of brain disorders including addictive disorders and stroke, and how medications development may assist in the treatment of these disorders (cf. Science, June 26, 1998).

Press Releases

September 29, 1998 - New Research Helps Explain Ritalin's Low Abuse Potential when Taken As Prescribed. Individuals taking therapeutic doses of methylphenidate rarely abuse it or become addicted, even though it is a stimulant with properties similar to those of cocaine and amphetamines. Ritalin, an oral form of methylphenidate, is the drug prescribed most frequently for children, adolescents, and adults diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). As a result of this news release, an article was distributed by Reuters.

October 22, 1998 - Prevention Could Save $352 Million Annually, New Study Clarifies Effects of Prenatal Exposure To Crack and Cocaine. Researchers at Brown University estimate that subtle deficits in IQ and language development will occur in up to 80,550 cocaine-exposed children. Although the developmental effects are subtle, special education to prevent these children from failing in the school environment will cost up to $352 million per year nationwide. As a result of this news release, articles appeared in The Washington Times and were distributed through Reuters, AP, and the BBC News.

November 5, 1998 - Different Treatment Strategy May Be Required For HIV Positive Women Who Have Used Injection Drugs. According to a study published in the November 7, 1998 issue of The Lancet, HIV-1-positive women who have used injection drugs may need a different schedule for anti-AIDS therapy from current practice. Among study subjects who developed AIDS, levels of HIV were significantly lower in the women than in the men, suggesting that rates of disease progression are more rapid in HIV-infected women who have used injection drugs than in men with the same viral load. As a result of this news release, articles appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, and the online Doctor's Guide to Medical & Other News.

November 12, 1998 - Individuals Who Abuse Any One Type of Drug Are at Serious Risk of Abusing All Other Types of Drugs. New research on pairs of male twins who had abused an illicit drug at some time in their lives shows a common vulnerability to co-occurring drug abuse, and a significantly increased risk of abusing every other category of illicit drug. Researchers found evidence that this common or shared vulnerability underlies abuse of a wide range of illicit drugs, including marijuana, sedatives, opiates, stimulants, and psychedelics. As a result of this news release, an article was distributed by Reuters.

November 18, 1998 - Every Middle School Nationwide to Receive Award-Winning, Science-Based Drug Education Materials. A new science education initiative for middle school students, teachers, and counselors was launched by NIDA, at the November 21, 1998 National Leadership Forum of the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America. NIDA Goes To School is designed to bring to the Nation's educators the latest scientific information about how drugs of abuse affect the brain and to give them effective, accurate tools to use in teaching their students.

November 18, 1998 - NIH Consensus Panel Statement Cites Inconsistencies In Care For Children With ADHD. Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often receive an inconsistent level of care from a fragmented system that consumes a large share of health care dollars, according to a consensus panel convened by NIH. The problem is compounded by the fact that an accurate diagnosis for ADHD remains elusive and controversial yet continues to be a commonly diagnosed behavioral disorder of childhood. As a result of this press release, articles appeared in The Washington Post, USA Today, The Washington Times, The New York Times, Time magazine, U.S. News & World Report, Newsday (New York, NY), Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Buffalo News, New Scientist, and in distribution by the Associated Press and PR Newswire. CBS News, CNN Today, and NPR also covered the conference.

November 19, 1998 - Comprehensive Research Effort Advanced on Tobacco Use. The National Cancer Institute (NCI), following the recommendations of its Tobacco Research Implementation Group, is advancing a plan to expand and accelerate tobacco research that can prevent cancers associated with tobacco use. In the first initiative, which creates a collaborative Transdisciplinary Tobacco Research Centers program, NCI will commit $50 million and the National Institute on Drug Abuse will commit $20 million over 5 years. As a result of this press release, an article was distributed through the Associated Press.

December 7, 1998 - Drug Abuse Costs Society $97.7 Billion and Climbing. The latest issue of NIDA NOTES, Vol. 13, No. 4, and a Media Advisory highlighting articles from the newsletter were sent to science and general interest press.

December 8, 1998 - Panel Urges Broadened Access, Insurance Coverage for Methadone Treatment Nationwide. An independent panel convened for a NIH Consensus Development Conference came out firmly in favor of methadone treatment for all heroin addicts who might benefit from it. The panel on "Effective Treatment of Opiate Addiction" met in November 1997 and its report is published in full in the Journal of the American Medical Association. As a result of this press release, articles appeared in The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Chicago Tribune, The Deseret News, The Detroit News, The Herald Sun (Durham, NC), The New York Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, USA Today, the Nando Times, The Stuart News/Port St. Lucie News, the Press Journal (Vero Beach, FL), Fox News Online,,, Agence France Presse, and were distributed through the Associated Press.

December 11, 1998 - Emerging Drug Trends Meeting To Be Held In Miami, Researchers Discuss U.S. Metropolitan Area Trends and International Data. Current and emerging patterns and trends in drug abuse were discussed at the 45th meeting of the Community Epidemiology Work Group (CEWG) held December 15-18, 1998 at the Wyndham Hotel, Miami, Florida. This meeting included international findings from members of the International Epidemiology Work Group on Drug Abuse. As a result of this press release, the meeting was covered by AP Miami and the Miami Herald.

December 18, 1998 - Drug Use Eases Among Teens For Second Consecutive Year, Secretary Shalala Also Announces NIDA Goes To School Initiative. The 1998 survey of drug use among adolescents found general stability among the proportion of 12th graders using most illicit drugs in the past year or past month, including the most frequently used drug, marijuana. There were also important decreases this year in 10th graders' use of marijuana, alcohol and cigarettes, and among 8th graders, the survey indicates evidence of a gradual decline in drug use over the past two years. As a result of this press release, articles appeared in USA Today, The Washington Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Buffalo News, The Detroit News, Deseret News, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Baltimore Sun, the San Jose Mercury News, the Chicago Tribune, the Dayton Daily News, Agence France Presse, United Press International, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, the Los Angeles Times, the Omaha World-Herald, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the San Antonio Express-News, and were distributed by Associated Press, UPI, Knight-Ridder, and Cox. CNN also covered this announcement.

December 21, 1998 - Popular Rave Drug "Ecstasy" Impairs Memory, Apparently Related to Brain Damage. Heavy use of the drug Ecstasy, or MDMA, can lead to persistent problems in remembering what is seen and heard, according to a study appearing in the December issue of Neurology. According to researchers from Johns Hopkins University, the memory impairment increases with the amount of drug taken and lasts at least two weeks after stopping use. These memory problems appear to be related to the damage Ecstasy does to particular brain cells that use the chemical serotonin for communication. As a result of this press release, an article appeared in The Independent (London), and an article was distributed through Reuters.


A new video, "Treatment Solutions," was launched at NIDA's 5th Annual Constituency Conference at Lansdowne, VA in December 1998 and received an enthusiastic response from the meeting's participants. Marketing and distribution plans include mailings to interested groups who have requested copies, distribution via NCADI, and placement of stories about its availability in constituent newsletters and other targeted publications.

Web Site

The NIDA web site continues to be updated. Two new initiatives recently added include information on the Clinical Trials Network and a NIDA Goes To School page that features an interactive site based on the Mind Over Matter series.

NIDA Exhibits Program

The fall season is one of the busiest for NIDA. The following are meetings where NIDA recently exhibited its publications and program announcements:

	October 9-10, 1998		Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science
	October 14, 1998		Iowa Town Meeting
	October 18-21, 1998		American Psychiatric Nurses Association
	October 19-21, 1998		National Corrections Conference
	October 25-27, 1998		New York State Association of Alcoholism & Substance Abuse Providers
	October 27-Nov 1, 1998		American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
	October 28, 1998		Buffalo Mini Town Meeting
	October 29-Nov 1, 1998		U.S. Conference on AIDS
	November 4-6, 1998		Primary Care
	November 5-8, 1998		Association for Advancement of Behavior Therapy
	November 7-12, 1998		Society for Neuroscience
	November 15-19, 1998		American Public Health Association
	November 19-21, 1998		Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America
	November 20, 1998		Parklawn Health Fair
	November 21-24, 1998		Minority Research Symposium
	December 1-2, 1998		NIDA Annual Constituent Meeting
	December 9-12, 1998		American Indian Science & Engineering Society

46,000 attendees were present at these conferences.

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