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Life Skills Training Shields Teens From Prescription Opioid Misuse

Prevention, Published December 2015

Communities that implemented Life Skills Training in a trial more than recouped its cost in reduced health, social, and other expenditures related to teen prescription opioid misuse.

Long-Term Follow-Up of Medication-Assisted Treatment for Addiction to Pain Relievers Yields “Cause for Optimism”

Treatment, Published November 2015

In the first long-term follow-up of patients treated with buprenorphine/naloxone for addiction to opioid pain relievers, half reported that they were abstinent from the drugs 18 months after starting the therapy.

Childhood Maltreatment Changes Cortical Network Architecture and May Raise Risk for Substance Use

Basic Science, Published November 2015

Young adults who had been maltreated as children differed from others who had not been maltreated in the connectivity of nine cortical regions. The differences could compromise the maltreated group’s basic social perceptual skills, ability to maintain a healthy balance between introversion and extroversion, and ability to self-regulate their emotions and behavior.

Digital Addiction Therapies Affirm Promise in Replication and Large Trial

Treatment, Published November 2015

Two computerized programs improved outcomes when they were used to supplement or partially replace in-person behavioral therapy for drug addiction in recent NIDA-sponsored trials.

Narrative of Discovery: Can Magnets Treat Cocaine Addiction?

Narrative of Discovery, Published September 2015

Two researchers share their reasons for researching transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) for treating cocaine addiction, and describe challenges to moving forward this potentially promising therapy.

Why Take a Drug That No Longer Gives Pleasure?

Basic Science, Published September 2015

In mice, a cocaine-induced imbalance in the activity of two key populations of neurons in the reward system persists for a longer period after repeated exposure to the drug. For long-term users, this change could both weaken the cocaine “high” and strengthen the compulsion to seek the drug.

Teen Foster Care Program Reduces Drug Use in Early Adulthood

Prevention, Published September 2015

New findings from a follow-up to a NIDA-supported trial indicate that the benefits of Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care extend to a reduction in illegal drug use in young adulthood.

THC Hampers Spatial Memory Development in Young Monkeys

Basic Science, Published September 2015

Adolescent monkeys that were exposed to THC fell progressively further behind THC-free monkeys in their ability to recall the location of an object after a brief delay.

Brain Imaging Predicts Relapse to Cocaine

Basic Science, Published September 2015

A NIDA-supported study has found that a cocaine-addicted person’s chance of managing 1 whole year of abstinence correlates with activity levels in these impaired motivational and decision-making brain areas.

A Rapid Teen Substance Use Screening Tool for Clinicians

Treatment, Published July 2015

Answers to three simple questions can help a busy health care provider flag a teen’s problematic use of alcohol, tobacco, or marijuana.

Electronic Questionnaire Quickly Rates Teens’ Substance Use

Treatment, Published July 2015

With a few simple questions, a new screening tool detects whether a teen is likely to have a mild-to-moderate or a severe substance use disorder.

Study Ranks Recovery Assets in Cocaine Addiction

Treatment, Published July 2015

A can-do attitude, ability to cope with potential triggers for drug use, readiness to change, and participation in self-help programs are major assets for people trying to recover from cocaine addiction.

Text Messaging Aftercare Intervention Cuts Youths’ Risk for Relapse

Treatment, Published June 2015

An interactive mobile texting aftercare program has shown promise as a means to help teens and young adults engage with post-treatment recovery activities and avoid relapse. The program reduced young people’s odds of relapsing by half compared with standard aftercare.

Dr. Thomas Kosten Q & A: Vaccines To Treat Addiction

Treatment, Published June 2015

In this article and accompanying podcast, Dr. Thomas Kosten discusses the idea and current status of antidrug vaccines to treat substance use and addiction.

Stress Hormone Sets the Stage for Relapse to Cocaine Use

Basic Science, Published June 2015

A stressed rat will seek a dose of cocaine that is too weak to motivate an unstressed rat. Researchers traced the physiological pathway that links stress and the stress hormone corticosterone to increased dopamine activity and heightened responsiveness to cocaine.

Distinct Challenges Affect Women’s HIV Treatment Outcomes After Jail

Treatment, Published May 2015

Women who are infected with HIV and are transitioning back to communities after serving jail time are less likely than their male counterparts to have a regular HIV care provider, to take and regularly adhere to an HIV medication regimen, and to have suppression of the virus.

Intervention Yields Sustained Health Benefits for American Indian Teen Mothers and Their Children

Prevention, Published March 2015

Family Spirit, a program that teaches parenting skills to American Indian teen mothers, improved participants’ children’s emotional and behavioral development throughout their first 36 months of life.

Study Points to Individualized Therapy for Opioid Addiction

Treatment, Published February 2015

Trial participants who were addicted to opioid painkillers and did not inject drugs stayed in treatment longer and achieved better outcomes than those who were addicted to heroin or injected drugs.

Patients Addicted to Opioid Painkillers Achieve Good Results With Outpatient Detoxification

Treatment, Published February 2015

A significant portion of individuals who are addicted to opioid painkillers may initiate and maintain abstinence with a brief but intensive outpatient detoxification treatment followed by opioid antagonist therapy using naltrexone.

Animal Study Suggests Marijuana May Affect Future Offspring’s Susceptibility to Heroin

Basic Science, Published February 2015

Can marijuana use put offspring at heightened risk for opiate addiction, even if the use stops before the offspring are conceived? Results from a recent NIDA-funded study are consistent with other studies suggesting that a parent’s history of drug use, even preconception, may affect a child’s brain function and behavior.

Waletzky Memorial Award Winners’ Lectures at NIDA Illuminate Cocaine’s Many Effects on Brain Structure, Circuitry

Bulletin Board, Published January 2015

Dr. Paul E. M. Phillips spoke on “Phasic Dopamine Transmission During Substance Abuse,” describing investigations that he has led into the role of brief, seconds-long bursts of dopamine signaling in addictive processes. Dr. Rita Z. Goldstein spoke on “Targeting the Brain, Cognition, and Motivation for Intervention in Addiction.”

Narrative of Discovery: In Search of a Medication To Treat Methamphetamine Addiction

Narrative of Discovery, Published January 2015

This is the first in a series of NIDA Notes articles that will follow a team of researchers seeking a medication for methamphetamine addiction. This installment describes the early promise of the compound lobeline and the new directions the team discovered in studying it.

Communities That Care System Helps Prevent Problem Behaviors in Youth Through 12th Grade

Prevention, Published December 2014

Extending the prevention interventions to target risk factors through the high school years could strengthen effects on substance use and delinquent behaviors on the cusp of adulthood.

Varenicline Helps People With Mental Illness Maintain Abstinence From Smoking

Treatment, Published November 2014

The finding from an 18-month-long clinical trial strengthens hope that pharmacotherapy can break nicotine’s especially tenacious hold on people with serious mental illness such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

Study Assesses Functional Deficits Due to HIV and Methamphetamine Use

Basic Science, Published November 2014

Methamphetamine use and HIV infection raise the risk for functional dependence, or the need for assistance with everyday tasks. People who use methamphetamine and are HIV positive showed the highest levels of functional dependence in most domains of daily life.

Animation: The Rise and Fall of the Cocaine High

Basic Science, Published November 2014

This animation shows the rapid passage of cocaine through the brain. It demonstrates that the intensity of the cocaine “high” parallels the trajectory of cocaine levels in the brain.

Smoking Cessation Does Not Interfere With Recovery From Substance Use

Public Health, Published October 2014

Despite common concerns that encouraging patients to quit smoking might endanger their success in treatment of substance use and mood or anxiety disorders, smoking cessation appears unlikely to hinder and may even help recovery.

Dr. Kevin M. Gray Q & A: A Potential Medication for Marijuana Dependence

Treatment, Published October 2014

Dr. Kevin M. Gray discusses why it’s the perfect time for discovering new evidence-based treatments for marijuana dependence. In an accompanying podcast, he discusses a clinical trial that examines NAC’s potential as a treatment for marijuana dependence among adults.

A Genetic Nexus of Obesity and Smoking

Basic Science, Published October 2014

Research shows that some gene variants that influence body mass index also shape smoking behaviors.

New Approach Uses Immune Cells To Deliver Anti-HIV Medications

Treatment, Published October 2014

Nano-antiretroviral therapy (nano-ART) turns macrophages—one of the very cell types that HIV uses to replicate and spread through the body—into carriers for anti-HIV medications. The approach has the potential to make treatment for HIV easier and more effective.

Student-Scientists Present Award-Winning Research at NIDA

Bulletin Board, Published August 2014

Four high school students were honored for their work regarding e-cigarettes, the GABAA neuroreceptor, and adolescent multitasking.

Training Workshops Boost Approval of Contingency Management

Treatment, Published August 2014

Clinicians associated with the Veterans Administration looked more favorably upon contingency management after attending training workshops on the use of the intervention. Despite being highly effective at decreasing drug use, contingency management is one of the least used among proven substance abuse treatments.

Self-Control Protects Urban Minority Youths From Drug Use and Depressive Mood

Public Health, Published July 2014

Interventions that bolster self-control in childhood and early adolescence might shield ethnic and racial minority adolescents and young adults from the burden of both drug use and depressive mood.

Among High School Seniors, Driving After Marijuana Use Surpasses Drunk Driving

Public Health, Published July 2014

Within the 2 weeks prior to responding to a nationwide survey, 28 percent of high school seniors were in a vehicle whose driver had been using marijuana or another illicit drug, or had drunk 5 or more alcoholic drinks.

Dr. Antonello Bonci Q & A: Lighting Up the Brain To Shut Down Cocaine Seeking

Basic Science, Published July 2014

The Scientific Director of NIDA’s Intramural Research Program talks about switching off animals’ compulsive cocaine seeking by optogenetically activating the prefrontal cortex, and the implications of this work for people. In an accompanying podcast, Dr. Bonci walks viewers through experiments that showed that prefrontal cortex activity levels may constitute a simple switch controlling whether or not animals compulsively seek cocaine.

Gene Variants Reduce Opioid Risks

Basic Science, Published June 2014

Two recent studies suggest that genotyping may enable clinicians to base therapies on individual patients’ potential responsiveness to opioid drugs’ therapeutic effects and vulnerability to their harmful effects.

New Insight Into How Cues Cause Relapse to Cocaine

Basic Science, Published May 2014

A brain response occurs in the nucleus accumbens when rats encounter a cue that they associate with previous cocaine self-administration, but not a cue associated with a pleasurable non-drug experience. Moreover, the response correlates in time and intensity with the animals’ cue-induced relapse to cocaine-seeking.

Device Detects Marijuana in Breath Hours After Smoking

Basic Science, Published May 2014

Driving under the influence of marijuana is a dangerous public health concern. NIDA researchers have discovered that breath expelled into a Breathalyzer-style collection device contained measurable amounts of THC for up to 2 hours after participants in a recent clinical trial smoked the drug.

Although Relatively Few, “Doctor Shoppers” Skew Opioid Prescribing

Public Health, Published May 2014

One out of every 143 U.S. patients who received a prescription for an opioid painkiller in 2008 obtained prescriptions from multiple physicians in a pattern that suggests misuse or abuse of the drugs.

Dr. Joni Rutter Q&A: How Basic Science Is Tackling Addiction

NIDA @ Work, Published May 2014

One of NIDA’s goals is to try to understand the individual differences that contribute to whether or not someone who takes a drug will become addicted to it. Dr. Rutter’s research focuses on three types of differences: Environmental, developmental, and genetic and epigenetic.

Marijuana Use May Promote Nicotine Consumption

Basic Science, Published April 2014

Exposing rats to THC increases the likelihood that the animals will later self-administer nicotine. THC-exposed rats are also willing to work harder to obtain nicotine. When extrapolated to people, the findings suggest that THC’s pharmacological impact on the brain may make a person who uses marijuana more vulnerable to developing nicotine addiction, an underappreciated health consequence of marijuana use.

In Nationwide Survey, More Students Use Marijuana, Fewer Use Other Drugs

Public Health, Published April 2014

Almost one-third (32 percent) of the roughly 42,000 Monitoring the Future survey respondents reported having used marijuana during their lifetime. However, abuse of many other drugs—methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, and some prescription medications—declined.

Expanded HIV Screening Projected To Decrease Spread of the Virus

Prevention, Published April 2014

Intensified screening for HIV among injection drug users receiving opioid agonist therapy could prevent more than twice as many new infections as current screening practice. A recent study based on mathematical modeling found that screening every 6 months instead of annually, and adding viral RNA testing to the currently used HIV antibody testing, could improve both effectiveness and cost-effectiveness.

Study: Treat Jail Detainees’ Drug Abuse To Lower HIV Transmission

Treatment, Published March 2014

Active drug use before incarceration was associated with decreased engagement in HIV treatment among HIV-infected jail detainees. The severity of drug dependence correlated with worsening measures of engagement in HIV treatment. The study concludes that evidence-based treatment for drug abuse in jails may result in improved HIV treatment outcomes, which in turn could help slow HIV-transmission rates in the United States.

Methamphetamine Alters Brain Structures, Impairs Mental Flexibility

Basic Science, Published March 2014

Methamphetamine alters brain structures involved in decision-making and impairs the ability to suppress habitual behaviors that have become useless or counterproductive. The two effects were correlated, indicating that the structural change underlies the decline in mental flexibility.

Microneedle Milestone: One Week of Transdermal Drug Delivery

Treatment, Published March 2014

Microneedles are an innovative technique for delivering medications through the skin, a route that could particularly benefit patients receiving naltrexone therapy for opioid and alcohol dependence. Researchers have found a way to use the transdermal technique to deliver a single treatment of naltrexone that lasts for 7 days.

California Reaped Large Savings by Diverting Drug-Using Offenders Into Treatment

Treatment, Published February 2014

California’s Proposition 36, which allows qualified drug offenders to enter substance use treatment rather than go to jail or prison, saved the state close to $100 million in its first year.

Intervention Strengthens American Indian Teen Mothers’ Parenting

Prevention, Published February 2014

Teen mothers on three American Indian reservations improved on several measures of parenting after participating in Family Spirit, a home-visiting intervention developed with NIDA support. At 12 months postpartum, the women’s children exhibited reduced rates of emotional difficulties predicting later drug abuse and other behavioral problems. Infants at highest risk—those whose mothers had histories of drug abuse—benefited the most.

Stress-Induced Enzyme Compounds Methamphetamine Neurotoxicity

Basic Science, Published January 2014

Ketoprofen, an anti-inflammatory agent commonly prescribed to treat arthritis, reduces neuronal damage in rats that have been exposed to chronic stress and methamphetamine. If this finding of a recent NIDA-supported study extrapolates to humans, anti-inflammatory medications may gain a place in the treatment of methamphetamine addiction.

HIV Infection Accelerates Hepatitis C–Related Liver Fibrosis

Treatment, Published January 2014

Study patients with HIV­­–hepatitis C coinfection progressed to successive degrees of severity of liver fibrosis 9 years sooner than those infected with HCV alone. Further findings from the study suggest that suppressing HIV with antiretroviral medications may slow HCV-related liver fibrosis.

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