September 3, 2012

More than 260 participants from 61 countries attended the 17th Annual NIDA International Forum, which was held June 8–11, 2012, in Palm Springs, California. The meeting focused on the growing public health problem of new and emerging psychoactive substances, which are mostly unregulated compounds that are specifically designed to circumvent drug laws and mimic the effects of illicit drugs by slightly altering the chemical structure of a known drug. A joint College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD)/NIDA International Forum poster session featured presentations by 160 U.S. and international researchers. Abstracts from the poster session are available in the NIDA International Drug Abuse Research Abstract Database.

NIDA International Program Director Steven W. Gust, Ph.D., chaired the meeting, which was planned jointly by the NIDA International Program, NIDA Division of Epidemiology, Services and Prevention Research (DESPR), and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA). In addition to the NIDA International Program, financial support for the 2012 NIDA International Forum was provided by DESPR, EMCDDA, the NIDA Office of Science Policy and Communications, and the Institute’s Asian American/Pacific Islander Researchers and Scholars Work Group.

The opening plenary session featured updates from the White House Office on National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), EMCDDA, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Cecelia McNamara Spitznas, Ph.D., ONDCP, said strengthening international partnerships in both demand and supply reduction efforts remains a priority for ONDCP. She also reported that every dollar invested in an evidence-based prevention program could reduce costs related to substance use disorders by $2 to $18. Mr. Griffiths concluded that globalization, reliance on the Internet as a source of medical information, younger populations who are more willing to experiment with new substances, and cost efficiencies in manufacturing and adapting products have created a dynamic and fluid situation that presents a growing challenge for monitoring, responding to, and controlling the use of new psychoactive substances. Michelle D. Walker, Ph.D., DEA, described the legal steps the agency can use to limit use of these new psychoactive substances, which she noted are reportedly more addictive, are more dangerous, and may cause more powerful highs compared with chemically similar substances.

NIDA Acting Deputy Director David A. Shurtleff, Ph.D., chaired a plenary session panel of researchers who discussed the latest research findings on detecting new compounds, assessing their effects, and monitoring use trends. Two breakout sessions also focused on new and emerging psychoactive substances, providing global updates and discussing the implications these substances have on prevention and treatment interventions. NIDA International Program Associate Director Dale Weiss chaired a session designed for NIDA International Fellowships Program alumni. Other breakout sessions focused on network-based models for monitoring drug abuse trends, international research reports, and drugged driving.

NIDA International Awards of Excellence, which recognize individuals for outstanding contributions to international cooperation in drug abuse research and training, were presented to Clyde B. McCoy, Ph.D., University of Miami, for excellence in mentoring, and Paul Griffiths M.Sc., EMCDDA, for excellence in international leadership.

Save the Date: 2013 NIDA International Forum

June 14–17, 2013
Hilton Bayfront Hotel, San Diego, California
Abstract Submission and Travel Award Application Deadline: December 1, 2012