December 22, 2011

The Dutch Addiction Program (DAP) Risk Behaviour and Dependency Programme hosted a binational addiction workshop in October in The Hague, The Netherlands.

The workshop was part of the ongoing collaboration between NIDA and the Research and Development Programme on Substance Use and Addiction of the Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development (ZonMw). In 1999, both nations agreed to cooperate by exchanging information and materials about drug addiction research, support exchange visits by scientists, and hold joint symposia to promote collaborative research efforts.

This workshop focused on the progress of current binational research projects, new research initiatives, and future collaboration between NIDA and The Netherlands. NIDA’s David Shurtleff, Ph.D., acting deputy director, and Steven W. Gust, Ph.D., International Program director, as well as Sineke ten Horn, DAP, hosted a session on future directions and priorities in drug abuse and addiction. Dr. Shurtleff discussed highlights in translational research at NIDA, while Dr. Gust focused on the future of international research collaborations, with Dr. ten Horn offering the Dutch perspective. Workshop participants also heard from jointly funded research teams as well as project teams funded by DAP’s Risk Behavior and Dependency Programme, on three separate topics: brain chemistry, brain activity, and pharmacology.  

The agenda also included time for a site visit to The Hague where a coffee shop owner explained the country’s tolerance model for certain drugs. Visitors learned how the coffee shop concept works and who the customers are that frequent these shops. The owner also explained the cooperation shops such as this one have with addiction clinics and their relationship with the police. The afternoon included a lecture by a police officer who expounded on the law enforcement perspective of the tolerance model.

Dr. Gust also participated in the European Area Research Network on Illicit Drugs conference the following day. The conference participants discussed some of the policy issues from partnering countries, the research underway, and projects planned for the future to provide for the development of a solid basis for evidence-based policy. Dr. Gust’s talk emphasized the added value of international collaboration in research.

The NIDA International Program provided travel support for three researchers who are currently working with Dutch partners:

  • Raymond G. Booth, Ph.D., University of Florida, Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, College of Medicine
  • Daniel D. Langleben, M.D., University of Pennsylvania, Addiction Treatment Research Center
  • Ingo Willuhn, University of Washington, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.