This is Archived content. To view the latest NIDA Notes go here.

Dr. Evan D. Kharasch Joins the Institute of Medicine

Bulletin Board, Published December 2013

Dr. Kharasch is a NIDA-funded researcher known for a broad range of research into how drugs are metabolized in the body.

Medications That Treat Opioid Addiction Do Not Impair Liver Health

Treatment, Published December 2013

A trial of buprenorphine/naloxone (Bup/Nx) showed no evidence that the medicine was associated with liver damage. The drug gave results similar to those of methadone. The study data indicate that although most patients can be treated safely with either methadone or Bup/Nx without major concern for liver injury, clinicians are advised to continue to monitor the liver health of their patients who are on methadone or Bup/Nx therapy.

Study Finds Genetic Influence on African Americans’ Smoking

Basic Science, Published November 2013

A meta-analysis of 13 genome-wide association studies of African Americans’ smoking patterns confirms the significance of genetic variation in region 15q25.1. The analysis also tentatively implicates several genome locations that have not previously been associated with smoking behaviors.

Naltrexone Implant Outperforms Daily Pill in Russian Trial

Treatment, Published November 2013

More than half of heroin-addicted patients treated with naltrexone via an implanted delivery device maintained abstinence throughout a 6-month clinical trial in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The implant device, which releases a steady dose of naltrexone continuously for 2 months, averted relapse to heroin use three times as effectively as daily oral doses of the medication.

Women Benefit From Policies to Prevent Teens From Buying Tobacco

Prevention, Published November 2013

Women who reached their majority in states with policies that restricted teens’ access to tobacco products were less likely to smoke from ages 18-34 than women in states without those policies. The research did not demonstrate that the policies had a comparable impact on men’s smoking.

NIDA Seeks Applications for Women and Sex/Gender Differences Junior Investigator Travel Awards for CPDD

Bulletin Board, Published November 2013

NIDA plans to provide $750 travel awards to 27 junior investigators to present their research on women or sex/gender differences in any area of drug abuse at the annual meeting of the College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD) in San Juan, Puerto Rico, June 14‒19, 2014. Deadline to apply is December 2, 2013.

Study Parses Comorbidity of Cannabis Use and Social Anxiety

Public Health, Published October 2013

People with cannabis use disorder (CUD) are likely also to have social anxiety disorder (SAD), and comorbid SAD is associated with greater severity of cannabis-related problems. These findings highlight the importance of assessing CUD patients for SAD, as that disorder can be both a contributing cause and a consequence of CUD. Treating both disorders may be a key to helping patients recover from each.

Dr. Marilyn Huestis Q & A: Matching Drug Effects to Drug Concentrations

NIDA @ Work, Published September 2013

Dr. Marilyn Huestis of NIDA’s Intramural Research Program talks about conducting research on drug effects with human subjects, developing tests to help law enforcement identify drugged drivers, and an assay to help identify children whose prenatal exposure to anti-HIV drugs may put them at risk for adverse developmental outcomes.

Stimulants in “Bath Salts” Produce Effects Similar to MDMA

Basic Science, Published August 2013

Mephedrone and methylone, two stimulants commonly found in designer drugs such as “bath salts,” act on the brain much like MDMA (Ecstasy).

Early-Onset, Regular Cannabis Use Is Linked to IQ Decline

Prevention, Published August 2013

Regular cannabis use that starts in adolescence strips away IQ, a NIDA-supported study suggests. Participants who initiated weekly cannabis use before age 18 dropped IQ points in proportion to how long they persisted in using the drug. Persistent cannabis users’ cognitive difficulties were evident to friends and family and measurable on a battery of tests.

Male Rats’ Cocaine Exposure Affects Their Offspring’s Drug Responses

Basic Science, Published August 2013

In a surprising finding, male rats who used cocaine sired male offspring who later exhibited blunted responses to the drug. Researchers determined the cause was an epigenetic alteration.

Study Pinpoints Cognitive Deficits Due to Cocaine, Finds Potential for Recovery

Basic Science, Published August 2013

New research demonstrated that, in rhesus monkeys, ongoing cocaine exposure weakens two brain functions that people require for successful behavioral change: cognitive flexibility and memory. But the study determined that these changes may not be permanent.

Problem Behaviors Can Signal Risk in Prescribing Opioids to Teens

Public Health, Published July 2013

Researchers found that 1 in 8 high school seniors had used a prescription opioid nonmedically, and 70 percent of these teens had compounded the attendant risk by co-ingesting an opioid with one or more other drugs. Nonmedical opioid use was significantly more prevalent among whites than among African Americans or Hispanics.

After Release, Jail Inmates’ Substance Use Patterns Relate to Their Choice of Friends

Prevention, Published July 2013

When the goal is to avoid using alcohol and illicit substances after being released from jail, it’s who one’s friends are that counts most. Self-control is important because it helps a person have the right kind of friends.

NIDA Advisory Council Welcomes Two New Members

Bulletin Board, Published May 2013

The National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse introduced two new members at its May 2013 meeting. 

Oxycodone Vaccine Passes Early Tests

Treatment, Published May 2013

A new vaccine hindered the often-abused prescription opioids oxycodone and hydrocodone from entering the brain and suppressed one of the drugs’ signature central nervous system effects. The findings warrant continued development of the vaccine as a potential aid in the treatment of oxycodone and hydrocodone abuse and dependence.

Receptor May Underlie Gender Differences in Response to Smoking Cessation

Treatment, Published May 2013

Men benefit more than women from nicotine replacement therapy for smoking cessation because nicotine affects a key neuroreceptor differently in the two sexes, a NIDA-sponsored study suggests. The findings highlight the need for alternative therapies for women smokers, and point to the female hormone progesterone as a potential therapeutic target.

Counselors’ Perceptions of Organizational Justice and Support Predict Job Turnover

Treatment, Published May 2013

Forty-seven percent of substance abuse treatment counselors in a national sample left their jobs voluntarily within 3 years.

Study Endorses Onsite HIV Testing Without Risk Reduction Counseling

Prevention, Published April 2013

Patients were more likely to take a rapid HIV test when substance abuse treatment programs offered the test onsite rather than referred for offsite testing. Patients were equally likely to accept and learn their HIV status whether the offer of onsite testing was accompanied by 30 minutes of risk reduction counseling or by 5 minutes of brief information on the testing procedure. Onsite testing accompanied by brief information was cost effective, taking into account the projected lifetime costs of treatment and the gains in health and longevity for detected cases.

Gabapentin Tested To Treat Marijuana Dependence

Treatment, Published April 2013

Marijuana-dependent outpatients who were treated with the medication gabapentin in a pilot clinical trial reduced their cannabis use more and reported fewer symptoms of drug withdrawal than patients who received a placebo.

Q & A: Dr. Redonna Chandler

NIDA @ Work, Published April 2013

The chief of NIDA's Services Research Branch talks about drug abuse treatment within the criminal justice system, and assesses the challenges facing drug abuse treatment overall in the United States.

Thoughts of Suicide May Persist Among Nonmedical Prescription Opiate Users

Prevention, Published March 2013

People who use prescription opiates nonmedically are more likely to consider suicide than those who use these medications only appropriately or not at all. A recent NIDA-supported study also disclosed that the risk for suicidal thoughts remains elevated after cessation of use.

Deadline Approaching: U.S.-Mexico Drug Abuse Prevention Research Fellowship

Bulletin Board, Published February 2013

Researchers interested in applying for the NIDA U.S.-Mexico Drug Abuse Prevention Research Fellowship need to submit application materials by April 1, 2013. 

Adolescent Cigarette, Alcohol Use Declines as Marijuana Use Rises

Public Health, Published February 2013

Fewer teens are using cigarettes, alcohol, and most illicit drugs, according to NIDA’s latest Monitoring the Future study. Troubling  trends persist in marijuana use, however, and nonmedical prescription drug use remains a concern.

Staff Stress Affects Patients’ Engagement in Therapy

Treatment, Published February 2013

Several factors contribute to treatment professionals’ stress and burnout, including how much influence they feel they have in their organization and their caseload. Surprisingly, a NIDA-supported study found that the link between staff stress and burnout was weaker in programs with higher patient caseloads than those with lower caseloads. In addition, program administrators can help counselors reduce their stress by giving them a voice in organizational policies and procedures.  

Nicotine Makes Mouse Brain More Responsive to Cocaine

Basic Science, Published February 2013
Neurobiological effect may explain why smoking is gateway to cocaine abuse, researchers say.

Nicotine sensitizes the mouse brain to the addictive effects of cocaine, according to recent NIDA-supported research. The results accord with the hypothesis that a person’s initial use of an addictive substance physiologically sensitizes his or her brain to the rewarding and addictive effects of other substances. If the findings carry over to people, then preventing youths from smoking might reduce their vulnerability to cocaine abuse and addiction, and cocaine-dependent individuals might ease their path to recovery by quitting smoking.

Seek-Test-Treat-Retain To Stop the Spread of HIV

Director's Perspective, Published February 2013

Despite the advances in treatment and prevention, roughly 50,000 new HIV infections still occur annually in the Nation. Research, in large part supported by NIDA, has produced a strategy to address this circumstance and break the epidemiological impasse: seek out HIV-infected individuals, particularly those in “hard-to-reach” groups that have minimal contact with the health care system; offer them HIV testing and treatment; and provide support to help them stay in treatment.

SAAF‒T Reduces African American Teens’ Substance Use, Conduct Problems

Prevention, Published February 2013

Teens who participated in the intervention Strong African American FamiliesTeen at age 16 reported fewer conduct problems and depressive symptoms and less substance abuse at age 17‒18, compared to peers exposed to a control intervention.

N-Acetylcysteine Postsynaptic Effect Limits Efficacy

Treatment, Published January 2013

Clinical trials of N-acetylcysteine to help people recovering from drug abuse avoid relapse have demonstrated only moderate efficacy. New NIDA-supported research shows that while a low dose of the medication activates receptors associated with lowered drug-seeking behavior, a higher dose appears to activate receptors associated with increased drug-seeking behavior. The result suggests that a medication or combination of medications that stimulate the receptor GluR2/3 and block mGluR5 may work better than N-acetylcysteine alone.

Crime Does Not Increase Around Methadone Clinics in Baltimore

Treatment, Published January 2013

Methadone treatment centers are not foci for serious criminal activity, according to a study that used crime reports and global positioning data to compare crime rates at various distances around methadone centers, hospitals, convenience stores, and residential neighborhoods.

Prenatal Methamphetamine Exposure Linked With Problems

Prevention, Published December 2012

Study findings indicate that children exposed to methamphetamine prenatally show more signs of increased emotionality, anxiety, and depression than nonexposed children at ages 3 and 5 years.

Animation: Building an Anti-Drug Vaccine

Treatment, Published December 2012

The immune system has an extraordinary ability to recognize compounds foreign to the body and eliminate them. NIDA-sponsored scientists are working to harness this ability to create vaccines that will protect individuals against the psychogenic and addictive effects of abused drugs. This animation shows one of the most promising strategies, which has already yielded partial success in producing effective vaccines against nicotine, cocaine, and other drugs.

Stress Receptor Mediates Lifelong Consequences of Early Trauma

Basic Science, Published November 2012
Overexpression of the glucocorticoid gene in the first weeks after birth increased anxiety and response to cocaine in adulthood.

NIDA-supported research suggests that glucocorticoid receptor levels during early brain development affect the hard wiring of neural circuits that shape an individual’s basic emotional makeup. In mice, overexpression of the glucocorticoid gene in the first weeks after birth increased anxiety and response to cocaine in adulthood. These findings may help researchers understand the genetic background and the developmental trajectory of addiction.

Good Behavior Game Wins 2012 Mentor International Best Practice Award

Prevention, Published November 2012

The NIDA-supported Good Behavior Game recently was honored with the 2012 Mentor International Best Practice Award. The game, which focuses on reducing disruptive behaviors in elementary school classrooms, has been shown to prevent drug abuse and other problems in adolescence and young adulthood.

Dr. Charles O’Brien Receives the James B. Isaacson Award for Lifetime Achievement

Bulletin Board, Published November 2012

NIDA researcher Dr. Charles O’Brien recently received the James B. Isaacson Award for a lifetime of research on the biological basis of alcoholism.

Q&A: Dr. David Thomas

NIDA @ Work, Published November 2012

NIDA Program Officer Dr. David Thomas speaks about the intertwined problems of pain and prescription opioid abuse, as well as the research supported by NIDA and the National Institutes of Health to address these problems.

Animal Research Advances Effort to Develop Vaccines Against Cocaine, Heroin Abuse

Treatment, Published September 2012
To block the effects of abused drugs, scientists recruit the immune system.

New vaccines that aim to promote recovery from cocaine and heroin abuse showed promise in animal testing. Both vaccines induced rats’ immune system to produce high titers of antibodies that inhibit the target drug from reaching the brain. The rats’ behaviors when given access to the target drug indicated that the vaccines reduced the reinforcing effects that, in recovering people, can cause lapses to turn into relapses.

Potential Pain Medication Targets Peripheral Nerves

Treatment, Published September 2012
Compound may relieve chronic pain without CNS side effects

Researchers report a significant advance in the search for medications that can suppress pain but avoid opioids’ abuse potential and other undesirable CNS effects. A new compound reduces mouse responses in animal models of neurogenic and chronic inflammatory (e.g., arthritic) pain. The compound, called UB937, enhances the natural pain-killing activity of the neurotransmitter anandamide, and exerts its analgesic effects entirely in peripheral tissues, without entering the brain.

Intervention Boosts Treatment Participation, Abstinence Among Depressed Women

Treatment, Published July 2012

Intensive case management was more effective in increasing treatment engagement and reducing alcohol consumption among depressed participants than among those who were not depressed, according to a followup analysis of a substance abuse treatment study involving women on welfare.

Few Teens With Prescription Opioid Use Disorders Receive Treatment

Treatment, Published July 2012

Fewer than 12 percent of adolescents who meet diagnostic criteria for prescription opioid abuse or dependence receive any treatment, according to an analysis of data from the 2005 to 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The most common reason the adolescents gave for not receiving treatment was their lack of perceived need for it.

PhenX Toolkit Provides Standard Measures for Research

Bulletin Board, Published July 2012

NIDA researchers working with human subjects now have a new resource at their fingertips: the PhenX Toolkit’s new Substance Abuse and Addiction (SAA) Collection. The Toolkit is designed to provide standardized measures, vetted and approved by the field, to help researchers compare and combine data from multiple studies.

Program Reduces Recidivism Among Men With Co-occurring Disorders

Prevention, Published July 2012

A modified therapeutic community program designed by NIDA-supported researchers helped Colorado offenders with co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders re-enter their communities and avoid recidivism after release from prison.

Prenatal Cocaine Exposure Increases Monkeys' Impulsivity Into Adulthood

Basic Science, Published July 2012

Prenatal drug exposure can have behavioral effects that last well into adulthood, according to two studies of adult monkeys prenatally exposed to cocaine. In the first study, drug-exposed monkeys exhibited less flexibility than controls in adjusting to changing circumstances; in the second study, drug-exposed males exhibited a greater preference than controls for having rewards right away, a sign of impulsivity.

Adolescent Smoking and Drinking at Historic Lows

Public Health, Published July 2012
But use of marijuana is on the rise.

Rates of adolescent cigarette smoking and alcohol drinking stood at historic lows in 2011, but marijuana use trended upward, according to the Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey.

Training Gaps for Evidence-Based Practices

Treatment, Published July 2012

Ninety percent of privately funded substance abuse treatment programs in the United States offer cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)...

Prevention System Has Lasting Effects, Benefit Exceeds Costs

Public Health, Published July 2012

Towns that implemented a drug abuse prevention program called Communities That Care will see a return of $5.30 for each $1 they invested during the 5-year trial of the intervention, according to a cost-benefit analysis. The estimate is based on reductions in smoking and delinquency observed during the fourth year of the study among eighth-graders and the projected total costs of smoking, delinquency, and crime avoided over the lifetimes of study participants.

The Present and Promise of mHealth

Director's Perspective, Published July 2012

NIDA researchers have developed a computer program that motivates and encourages treatment-seeking when an individual is in a primary care physician’s waiting room. Users of the program, called Video Doctor, enter information on a portable device and receive feedback about health risks related to their drug abuse, along with advice, immediately prior to seeing their physician.

More Convenient Preparations of Buprenorphine Pass Test

Treatment, Published July 2012

Soluble-film preparations of buprenorphine suppressed heroin abusers’ withdrawal symptoms with no serious side effects in a recent clinical trial. They dissolved more rapidly in the mouth than the pill form of the medication, providing faster relief.

Buprenorphine During Pregnancy Reduces Neonate Distress

Treatment, Published July 2012
A multisite clinical trial lays groundwork for improving care for mothers and babies affected by opioid dependence.

Sublingual buprenorphine is a safe and effective alternative to methadone for treating opioid dependence during pregnancy, finds the Maternal Opioid Treatment: Human Experimental Research (MOTHER) study, a NIDA-supported clinical trial. Women who received either medication had similar pregnancy and birth outcomes, but infants born to women who received buprenorphine had milder symptoms of neonatal opioid withdrawal.

Neuroscience Education Program Encourages Learning at All Ages

Bulletin Board, Published July 2012

Eight scientists have received National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants to develop K-12 education programs that will engage young people in learning about the brain, inspire some to pursue careers in biomedical science, and increase teacher knowledge of neuroscience. The 5-year grants are funded by the NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research Science Education.

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