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Anabolic-Androgenic Steroids May Damage the Heart and Arteries

Public Health, Published November 2017

Use of anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) is associated with compromised heart pumping and atherosclerotic plaque. Clinicians should inquire about AAS use when young or middle-aged men present with left ventricular dysfunction or coronary artery disease.

Substance Use Disorders Are Associated With Major Medical Illnesses and Mortality Risk in a Large Integrated Health Care System

Public Health, Published October 2017

Strong associations exist between substance use disorder diagnoses and 19 major medical illnesses among patients in a large, integrated health care system. The study indicates that these associations may persist even in health care systems that provide specialized treatment for substance use disorders and have capacity to integrate behavioral and medical care.

Deep Brain Stimulation Attenuates Rats’ Responses to Heroin

Treatment, Published October 2017

High-frequency electrical stimulation of neurons deep in the brain can reduce rats’ relapse-like behavior and motivation to take heroin. The finding strengthens hope that deep brain stimulation might offer a new treatment alternative for opioid addiction, particularly for patients who have not benefited from other treatments.

EEG Indicates That Cocaine Relapse Vulnerability Peaks 1 to 6 Months Into Abstinence

Basic Science, Published September 2017

Electroencephalography (EEG) may provide an objective measure of cocaine-addicted participants’ vulnerability to cue-induced relapse. The assessment of cue-induced responsiveness may be useful in the clinical setting for assessing relapse risk and tailoring interventions to maintain abstinence among cocaine-addicted adults. 

After Showing Promise for Cannabis-Using Adolescents, N-Acetylcysteine Falters in Adult Study

Treatment, Published September 2017

In a clinical trial, N-acetylcysteine did not help adults reduce their cannabis use, despite having been effective for adolescents in a previous trial. The results indicated that if adults are able to benefit from the medication, they will likely require a different treatment regimen than adolescents.

Blocking Protein Complex May Lock Down HIV Reservoirs

Public Health, Published September 2017

Inhibiting mTOR, a regulatory protein complex, can prevent reactivation of latent HIV. Medications to inhibit mTOR might help people with HIV achieve and maintain undetectable HIV viral loads.

Opioid Agonist Treatment Reduces Societal Costs of Crime

Treatment, Published August 2017

Patients who initiate time-unlimited opioid-agonist therapy will generate lower average total crime-related costs over the next 6 months than patients who initiate a 21-day detoxification regimen.

Variation in the Gene for the μ-Opioid Receptor May Influence Responses to Methadone

Basic Science, Published August 2017

A single nucleotide polymorphism in the messenger RNA of the µ-opioid receptor gene was associated with patients’ responses to methadone treatment for opioid dependence.

Why Females Are More Sensitive to Cocaine

Basic Science, Published August 2017

New research demonstrates that the hormone estradiol is responsible for females’ increased sensitivity to stimulant drugs.

Researchers Speak: The ABCD Study

Public Health, Published June 2017

In this video, Dr. Terry Jernigan describes the purpose and goals of the Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study.

Nonmedical Opioid and Heroin Use Among High School Seniors

Public Health, Published April 2017

This study analyzed the use of use of nonmedical opioids and heroin use among 68,000 high-school seniors participating in the NIDA-funded Monitoring the Future Study between 2009 and 2013.

Narrative of Discovery: Can Magnets Treat Cocaine Addiction? Part 3

Narrative of Discovery, Published March 2017

In the final installment of this series, Dr. Diana Martinez navigates the process for receiving NIH funding to test the efficacy of using transcranial magnetic stimulation as treatment for cocaine addiction.

Buprenorphine Benefits Waitlisted Seekers of Opioid Treatment

Treatment, Published March 2017

In two pilot clinical trials, buprenorphine helped participants reduce their illicit opioid use and injection drug use while awaiting admission to a methadone or buprenorphine treatment program. Researchers minimized the risks for improper use or diversion of the study medication by giving it to trial participants in a computerized, tamper-proof device that dispenses one dose each day.

Endocannabinoid Regulates Cocaine Reward

Basic Science, Published March 2017

Investigators have shown that 2-AG, an endocannabinoid (i.e., a cannabinoid manufactured within the body, as opposed to plant-derived), augments the cocaine-induced dopamine surge in the brain’s reward system. The discovery adds to evidence that inhibiting activity in the endocannabinoid system might reduce cocaine’s rewarding and addictive effects.

Impacts of Drugs on Neurotransmission

Basic Science, Published March 2017
The defining features of drug intoxication and addiction can be traced to disruptions in neuron-to neuron signaling.

Drugs can alter the way people think, feel, and behave by disrupting neurotransmission, the process of communication between brain cells. This article discusses the central importance of studying drugs’ effects on neurotransmission and describes some of the most common experimental methods used in this research. 

Why Are Our Brains So Big and Powerful?

Basic Science, Published March 2017

Research suggests that unique patterns of gene regulation have contributed to the differences in brain size and capacity that distinguish humans from other animals.

Promising Advances in the Search for Safer Opioids

Basic Science, Published February 2017

New studies show that two novel compounds powerfully suppressed animals’ pain responses, while producing little or none of the respiratory depression and liability for misuse and abuse associated with morphine and other typical opioids.

Prevention Program Reduces Substance Use By Participants' Friends

Prevention, Published January 2017

The Strengthening Families Program for Youth 10-14 (SFP10-14), an evidence-based intervention that reduces teen substance use, also reduced participants’ friends’ substance use. Two factors that accounted for the nonparticipants’ reductions were less time spent by nonparticipants with their participating friends without adult supervision and improvements in nonparticipants’ attitudes toward substance use. The findings suggest that researchers should consider the potential for diffusion of benefits in designing and implementing prevention programs.

Nonmedical Treatment for Cocaine Addiction Shows Promise in Pilot Trial

Treatment, Published November 2016

Patients who received transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) were more likely to abstain from cocaine than patients who received medications for symptoms associated with abstinence. Researchers concluded that TMS appears to be safe and its efficacy as a treatment for cocaine addiction deserves to be evaluated in a larger clinical trial.

Messages Shore Up Support for Making Life-Saving Anti-Overdose Medication Widely Available

Treatment, Published October 2016

Public health messages can increase public approval for making naloxone legally available to friends and relatives of opioid users to administer if an overdose occurs.

Why Do People Lose Control Over Their Cocaine Use?

Basic Science, Published September 2016

Researchers monitored the activity of two types of neurons in mice: “urge” neurons, which promote feelings of reward and repeating behaviors that have produced rewards, and “control” neurons, which dampen those feelings and inhibit behavior.

Quinine as a Tracer for Medication Adherence

Treatment, Published September 2016

Patients who don’t take their medications as prescribed often put themselves at risk for problems including misdiagnoses, complications, and death. A study suggests that adding low doses of quinine to patients’ medications could provide an inexpensive, reliable, and safe method of monitoring whether patients are taking their medications as directed.

A Case for Studying Brain Asymmetry in Drug Use

Basic Science, Published September 2016

A new study proposes that research into the discrete roles played by the brain’s two hemispheres could yield important and actionable insights into drug use and addiction. Evidence indicates that two risk factors for substance use, impulsivity and craving, primarily reflect activity in the right and left hemispheres, respectively.

Regular Marijuana Use Is Associated With Differences in Brain Gray Matter and Connectivity

Basic Science, Published September 2016

A brain imaging study strongly suggests that regular users of marijuana have smaller orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) volumes. Such a deficit could make it more difficult to change counterproductive behaviors, including drug use.

Slow-Release Amphetamine Medication Benefits Patients With Comorbid Cocaine Addiction and ADHD

Treatment, Published August 2016

Treatment with an extended-release stimulant medication plus cognitive behavioral therapy was associated with reductions in cocaine use and in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms in patients with both disorders.

Study Questions Role for Marijuana in Teen Users’ IQ Decline

Public Health, Published August 2016

In a recent study, teens who used marijuana lost IQ points relative to their nonusing peers. However, the drug appeared not to be the culprit.

Narrative of Discovery: Can Magnets Treat Cocaine Addiction? Part 2

Narrative of Discovery, Published July 2016

During investigations into using transcranial brain stimulation (TMS) to treat cocaine abuse, two projects take diverging paths. One researcher moves to the next stage, while another is forced to cut his trial short. 

Study Links Medical Marijuana Dispensaries to Reduced Mortality From Opioid Overdose

Public Health, Published May 2016

Legally protected marijuana dispensaries (LMDs) were associated with lower rates of dependence on prescription opioids, and deaths due to opioid overdose, than would have been expected based on prior trends. However, LMDs also were associated with higher rates of recreational marijuana use and increased potency of illegal marijuana.

Sensation Seeking Promotes Initiation, Impulsivity Promotes Escalation of Substance Use

Public Health, Published May 2016

Teens who avidly seek new and intense sensations are more likely to start using substances, but are not more likely to use them regularly within the next 3 years unless they also are prone to devalue distant consequences and act impulsively.

Dual Regimen Aims To Shorten Medication-Assisted Therapy

Treatment, Published May 2016

Treatment that combines use of Bp/Nx and memantine may enable young adults addicted to opioids establish lasting abstinence after a relatively brief course of medication-assisted therapy, a pilot trial suggests.

Narrative of Discovery: In Search of a Medication To Treat Methamphetamine Addiction, Part 2

Narrative of Discovery, Published April 2016

When lobeline turned out not to be the answer, it became a starting point. Dr. Linda Dwoskin and her team set out to transform the molecule into something more effective and with fewer side effects.

Testing a Prospective Medication To Help People Avoid Relapse

Treatment, Published March 2016

This NIDA Notes animation depicts a basic experiment that researchers use to test whether a prospective new medication can prevent relapse to drug addiction.

Gene Variant Is Associated With Reduced HIV Transmission

Basic Science, Published March 2016

A gene variant appears to partially shield people whose behaviors entail high risk for exposure to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) from becoming infected.

Protein Diminishes Cocaine Reward and Cocaine-Related Learning in Animals

Basic Science, Published February 2016

The protein acid-sensing ion channel 1A (ASIC1A) is naturally present in the brain and reduces laboratory animals' attraction to environments in which they have experienced cocaine's effects.

ED-Initiated Buprenorphine Outperforms Referral or SBIRT for ED Patients With Opioid Addiction

Treatment, Published January 2016

Emergency department visits present prime opportunities to identify people with opioid addiction and provide them with onsite initiation of treatment with buprenorphine/naloxone.

Gene Transfer Therapy for Cocaine Addiction Passes Tests in Animals

Basic Science, Published January 2016

Giving mice a modified version of a naturally occurring gene blocks cocaine’s stimulant effects without affecting the animals’ physiological or metabolic health. The new evidence advances the proposed therapy a step closer to readiness for testing in people.

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.

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