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National Institute on Drug Abuse

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

May, 1998

Media and Education Activities


NIDA's new Mind Over Matter series has recently received a Silver Certificate in the Astrid Awards given by MerComm, Inc. MerComm, Inc. was founded with the principal purpose of advancing the arts and sciences of communications in an international arena. Their awards programs are in their 12th year with over 3000 entries coming from all over the world. The Mind Over Matter series was developed by NIDA to teach middle school students about how drugs of abuse act in the brain. The series consists of six full-color glossy magazines that unfold into posters, and a teacher's guide that provides additional information on the brain and the effects of drugs. The series includes magazines on marijuana, opiates, stimulants, hallucinogens, inhalants, and steroids.

Press Releases

January 26, 1998 - One Step Closer to Unraveling Nicotine's Addictive Properties. An important discovery about the mechanisms of nicotine addiction brings researchers even closer to the development of an effective treatment for one of the Nation's deadliest and most costly health problems--nicotine addiction. Building on a series of recent scientific findings suggesting that, independent of a drug's initial site of action, every drug of abuse--be it nicotine, alcohol, heroin, cocaine, or amphetamine--appears to increase the levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine in a particular brain pathway, scientists may now have found a molecular link between nicotine addiction and this common reward or pleasure producing pathway.

February 3, 1998 - Study Identifies Mechanism for Cocaine-Induced Stroke and Other Brain Damage. Scientists at McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical School have identified a likely mechanism by which cocaine use can cause brain damage and decreased cognitive function. Using advanced brain imaging techniques, scientists have clearly demonstrated for the first time that cocaine use temporarily narrows blood vessels in the human brain. The study also shows that repeated cocaine use has a cumulative effect, where the more an individual uses the drug, the more it causes blood vessel narrowing. The study was to appear in the February 4, 1998, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

March 24, 1998 - Science and Public Join Together to Confront Local Drug Abuse and Addiction Issues at Boston Town Meeting. This announced the April 2 Boston Town Meeting, sponsored by NIDA and Join Together/Boston University School of Public Health. NIDA staff and local grantees highlighted some new research findings to help individuals, families, and communities gain more insight into preventing and treating the illness of drug addiction. Attendees included scientists, civic leaders, policy makers, public officials, and drug abuse prevention and treatment professionals. The meeting also served as a forum for local participants to advise NIDA on the kinds of research-based information needed at their particular State and local levels.

March 31, 1998 - Troubled Teens Risk Rapid Dependence on Marijuana. Marijuana use by teenagers who have prior serious antisocial problems can quickly lead to dependence on the drug, according to a study by researchers at the Addiction Research and Treatment Service, University of Colorado School of Medicine. The study also found that, for troubled teens using tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana, the progression from first use of marijuana to regular use was more rapid than the progression to regular use for alcohol and about the same for nicotine.

April 2, 1998 - New Help Available For Communities to Assess Local Drug Problems. Dr. Alan I. Leshner, NIDA Director, announces release of a new guide to help communities determine the nature of their local drug problems. The science-based guide, Assessing Drug Abuse Within and Across Communities, provides strategies to assess local drug abuse patterns and trends, and especially emerging problems, allowing communities to do a better job of focusing their efforts at preventing and reducing drug use in their local environment.

April 7, 1998 - New Addiction Treatments To Be Focus of National Conference in Washington. On April 8-9, NIDA's National Conference on Drug Addiction Treatment: From Research to Practice allowed researchers and service providers to exchange findings about what treatments work, what aspects of individual programs can be tailored for specific populations. General Barry McCaffrey, Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, delivered the keynote address. At the conference, NIDA Director Dr. Alan I. Leshner released the first two in a series of treatment delivery manuals developed to help drug treatment practitioners provide the best possible care that science has to offer.

Other Press Activities

Broadcast Media

March 29, 30, and 31, 1998 - Bill Moyers' PBS Special on Addiction: Close to Home - Amid considerable publicity, this series premiered 1 year after Bill Moyers interviewed Dr. Leshner and filmed his science-based question/answer session with middle school children. The 5-part PBS series aired nationwide, covering the science of addiction as well as prevention and treatment issues. Moyers also interviewed and featured the work of several NIDA grantees throughout the special. NIDA staff also worked with the production staff to develop viewers' guides and student guides to accompany a variety of community-oriented activities planned to coincide with the broadcast. One activity was a satellite "forum" broadcast on February 26, featuring Dr. Leshner and other experts in addiction and treatment.

April 8 and 9, 1998 - NIDA National Treatment Research Conference, Washington, D.C. This conference generated much media interest. More than 20 reporters and writers attended throughout the conference. A wire story from Reuters was carried in several papers nationwide. In addition, Dr. Leshner conducted radio interviews with NPR, ABC, NBC, and Talk America. Dr. Zukin conducted an interview with CBS radio.

April 2, 1998 - NIDA's Boston Town Meeting - Considerable media attention ensured that this was the best-attended town meeting to date. NIDA's media partner was WGBH, Boston's PBS station. The public relations staff of Join Together, which cosponsored the conference, also garnered considerable publicity, including an editorial board meeting of Dr. Leshner with The Boston Globe, which resulted in two articles.

March 18, 1998 - ABC Nightline - Dr. Leshner was interviewed and appeared in a segment on the effectiveness of treatment for drug addiction.

March 27, 1998 - CBS Evening News - Dr. Leshner was interviewed and appeared in a segment on congressional hearings on addiction that focused on the upcoming Bill Moyers' PBS Special on addiction.

Planned Meetings

Cognition and Emotion Meeting at APS An all-day miniconference entitled "Cognition and Emotion: Applications to Drug Abuse", which will be held on May 21, 1998, is being co-sponsored by NIDA's Behavioral Science Working Group and the American Psychological Society. The conference, which will be conducted at the Washington Hilton Hotel, is the second in a series of conferences highlighting NIDA's interest in cognitive sciences. Leading researchers in cognition, decision making, expectancy and emotional processes will participate in symposia on topics such as smoking motivation, the role of prefrontal functions in decision making, and problem solving approaches. Links to etiology, prevention and treatment of drug abuse and high-risk behaviors will be emphasized, and active interchange between speakers and attenders will be encouraged.

Council's Craving Consensus Workshop The purpose of this workshop to be held May 26-27, 1998 is to define craving from a human perspective.

Drug Addiction: A Treatable Disease, a special research-based program track of the American Psychiatric Association 151st Annual Meeting, will take place May 30 - June 4, 1998 in Toronto, Canada. This meeting is the culmination of a collaborative effort of NIDA and the APA with the goal of disseminating state-of-the-at research findings in drug addiction treatment and prevention to pyschiatrists in the field.

Forging the Link: Health Services Research on Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment. A NIDA sponsored symposium will be held on Saturday, June 20, from 1:00 - 5:00 pm at the Washington Hilton. This meeting will present an overview of progress in health services research on drug abuse prevention and treatment, and focus on an agenda for health services research to help achieve significant advances in access to, quality, and outcomes of drug abuse treatment and prevention.

Frontiers in Neuroscience Series: Wired for Addiction will be held June 22, 1998. Speakers will discuss the anatomical, mechanistic, and functional aspects of interconnecting neural circuits, from the evaluation of the salience of a stimulus, like cocaine, to its translation into an action such as taking a drug.

National Nicotine Conference NIDA and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, in conjunction with the National Cancer Institute and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Office of Smoking and Health), are co-sponsoring a national conference entitled "Addicted to Nicotine: A National Research Forum" on July 27-28, 1998. This two-day conference, which will be held on the NIH campus (Natcher Auditorium), will focus on the latest research findings about behavioral, cognitive and neurobiological factors contributing to nicotine addiction, as well as feature presentations on the latest science-based smoking prevention and treatment strategies.

NIDA/American Psychological Association (APA) Sponsored Symposium A symposium entitled "Expectancies: A Cognitive Science Approach to Substance Abuse," will be held at the APA meeting on August 14, 1998 at the Moscone Conference Center in San Francisco, CA. The symposium will bring together basic and clinical researchers to discuss and summarize the major finding of expectancy research and the role of this cognitive process in the etiology, treatment, and prevention of drug abuse.

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