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What's New at the National Institute on Drug Abuse

Research News
School-Based Drug Abuse Prevention Program Also Works Against Violence and Delinquency.
Research News imageResearchers have determined that school-based intervention strategies used to prevent substance abuse may also work to reduce adolescent delinquency and violence.

Dual-Action Experimental Approach Looks Promising for Cocaine Addiction and Other Brain Disorders
Researchers have identified a novel strategy to reduce cocaine-seeking behavior. The approach uses a neurochemical normalization strategy that simultaneously releases two neurotransmitters deficient in the brains of those addicted to cocaine.

Different Models of Buprenorphine Treatment for Opioid Addiction Offer Hope for Undertreated Regions of the World
Buprenorphine programs in Europe, Australia, and the United States have been successful in treating opioid addiction. Expanded access to opioid treatment programs with the introduction of buprenorphine may help stem the co-occurring epidemic of HIV and drug abuse in undertreated regions of the world, including Eastern Europe, Asia, and the former Soviet Union.

NIDA-Funded Addiction Treatment Program Recognized with Prestigious Codman Award
In a first award of its kind for addiction services, the Addiction Treatment Services of Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center was awarded the 2007 Codman Award by The Joint Commission on November 12 at their annual Resources' Conference on Quality and Safety in Chicago for its innovative Motivated Stepped Care (MSC) treatment model for methadone patients. The award recognizes excellence in the use of outcomes measurement to achieve improvements in the quality and safety of health care.

The Bayview center initiated the program, developed and tested with the support of NIDA to combat poor counseling attendance and high rates of continuing drug use among methadone patients. MSC features a patient/provider matching protocol that puts the most severely affected patients under the care of the most experienced and highly trained staff, along with behavioral contingency plans to reinforce adherence to recommended treatments. MSC was cited for success in decreasing positive urine tests from 74 percent to 54 percent and increasing group counseling attendance from 14 percent to 65 percent. Addiction Treatment Services has seen individual counseling attendance rates rise and has replicated parts of the MSC model in other treatment clinics in Baltimore.

News Releases
Drug-Impaired Driving by Youth Remains Serious Problem
Large numbers of American adolescents are putting themselves and others at great risk by driving while under the influence of illicit drugs or alcohol, according to a study funded by NIDA. In 2006, 30 percent of high school seniors reported driving after drinking heavily or using drugs, or riding in a car whose driver had been drinking heavily or using drugs, at least once in the prior two weeks. These findings are based on data obtained from the Monitoring the Future study, in which nationally representative samples of high school seniors have been surveyed annually since 1975.

Early Fine-tuning of Neural Connections May Turn Destructive Later in Life.
Research News image The immune system helps to prune excess connections between neurons in the developing brains of young mice, according to scientists funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The study, published in the December 14 issue of the journal Cell, sheds critical new light upon a fundamental process, while hinting at a likely mechanism behind neurodegenerative diseases like glaucoma and Alzheimer's disease.

NIDA Announces New Avant-Garde Award for Innovative AIDS Research.
NIDA Avant-Garde Award logo The National Institute on Drug Abuse announced it is looking for scientists of exceptional creativity to apply for its new NIDA Avant-Garde Award for HIV/AIDS research. In a move to stimulate high-impact research into the link between drug abuse prevention and treatment and HIV/AIDS, NIDA will provide up to $500,000 per year for five years to two or three scientists of exceptional creativity who propose cutting edge - and possibly transformative - approaches to major challenges in biomedical and behavioral research on drug abuse and HIV/AIDS.

Latest Public Service Campaign Educates Hispanic Youth on the Link between Drug Abuse and HIV.
HIV PSA image
NIDA has launched the second phase of its national public service campaign on the link between drug use and HIV transmission. This portion of the campaign features an innovative television spot blending English and Spanish; a Webisode series that will launch soon on www.hiv.drugabuse.gov; outdoor, transit and print placements; community events and partnerships.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse Offers Summer Internship Opportunities.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse announced the kick off for the application period for summer research training opportunities at its Intramural Program facility in Baltimore, Maryland. The internship program - now in its 21st year - is part of NIDA's commitment to introducing the science of addiction to some of the best and brightest young scientists in America.

Of Interest
Overwhelming Response to NIDA's First Chat Day
Chat Day photos Students are craving accurate information on drug abuse and addiction. That's the conclusion we drew from the groundbreaking online chat with high school and middle school students last month. In all, there were more than 36,000 questions from schools in 49 states, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam. At times, the questions came in as rapidly as 6,000 questions per hour!

NIDA partnered with Scholastic, a popular in-school publication service, to promote NIDA's Drug Facts Chat Day 2007 through school distribution lists. Some schools advertised the event on their own initiative.

More than 40 scientists and science writers who specialize in addiction issues took turns throughout the day to answer questions as they were posted during a ten-hour period. Dr. Nora D. Volkow answered more than 100 questions herself.

More than ten percent of the questions focused on marijuana, another ten percent on alcohol, and another ten percent on smoking. More than 600 teens asked how they could get help for a friend, and nearly 400 teens asked about the effects of using drugs or alcohol during pregnancy. There were thousands of more general questions, from "What drugs are the worst for you?" to "Why do people take drugs?"

While a lot of schools were not able to get their questions answered due to the high volume, teachers were able to use the chat as a useful teaching tool. "I think the scientists did an excellent job of answering questions in a very professional manner and very cordial. This was an outstanding event and I am so glad to hear that you will be doing this again" one teacher commented.

Plans are already underway for Drug Facts Chat Day 2008.

The Chat Day transcript has been posted online at drugfactsweek.drugabuse.gov/chat

NIDA at the White House
President Bush The White House was the setting for the release of the 2007 Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey results. Dr. Volkow was invited to participate in a presidential press briefing, along with John Walters, the director of ONDCP. NIDA's Dr. Wilson Compton, Carol Krause and Dr. Lloyd Johnston, the PI from the University of Michigan, were also in attendance at the event, which included community activists and youth leaders. President Bush highlighted the decline in past-month youth drug use from 2001-2007, and also talked about the challenges that remain, such as the abuse of prescription pain killers.

MTF activities continued at the National Press Club, where Dr. Cindy Miner hosted a briefing on NIDA constituents by Dr. Marsha Lopez. The NIDA press team arranged for press interviews and a Q&A session with Drs. Volkow, Compton and Johnston. Dr. Volkow also went to the CNN studios to record an interview that aired on the Lou Dobbs program later that evening.

The Monitoring the Future survey received wide media coverage, and was highlighted by most of the major news outlets including: USA Today, Associated Press, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times, as well as numerous television and radio stations.

If you'd like to see and hear more, select the appropriate link below.

Vodcast of Dr. Volkow's remarks about MTF 2007

Interview on NIH Radio

View press release.

NIDA Notes Vol. 21, No. 4
The latest issue of NIDA Notes has been published. The lead story looks at the neuropeptide orexin and links to the reward system. The Director's Perspective reports on NIDA's role in the NIH obesity task force, and a NIDA at Work feature reports on the Division of Clinical Neuroscience and Behavioral Research.

The NIDA Notes Reference Article provides a primer on the impacts of drugs on neurotransmission.

NIDA Notes is distributed to over 93,000 subscribers.
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