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

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.

Brief Intervention Helps Adolescents Curb Substance Use

Treatment, Published January 2013
Two hour-long sessions a week apart reduce symptoms of substance abuse or dependence.

NIDA-funded researchers have gathered evidence that brief interventions can help adolescents move away from drug use. In a clinical trial, middle and high school students markedly reduced their substance use following two 60-minute sessions that combined motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioral therapy.

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.

Dr. David Jentsch Receives the 2011 Waletzky Memorial Award

Bulletin Board, Published July 2012

Dr. J. David Jentsch is the recipient of the 2011 Jacob P. Waletzky Memorial Award for Innovative Research in Drug Addiction and Alcoholism. Dr. Jentsch and colleagues at the University of California, Los Angeles, are studying genetic and neurochemical factors that influence individual differences in inhibitory control.

Elevated Rates of Drug Abuse Continue for Second Year

Public Health, Published June 2012

Illicit drug use in the United States in 2010 was at its highest level since 2002, according to the most recent report from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. A rise in marijuana use drove the increase. A favorable trend of falling cocaine use continued.

Investigators Map Functional Networks in the Rat Brain

Basic Science, Published June 2012

Researchers have mapped the fundamental functional organization of the rat brain and shown that it resembles that of the human brain.

Home Visits by Nurses to Low-Income First-Time Mothers Yield Enduring Benefits

Prevention, Published April 2012
Savings on welfare-related outlays offset the cost of a program that improved children

A program involving home visits by nurses to low-income first-time mothers, starting during pregnancy and extending into the second year of their children’s lives, has a positive and long-lasting impact on families. Children who participated in the program were less likely than others to report having used alcohol, cigarettes, or marijuana at age 12.

Physical Activity Reduces Return to Cocaine Seeking in Animal Tests

Basic Science, Published April 2012
Exercise also decreases neural change linked with drug seeking during abstinence.

Two independent animal studies suggest that aerobic exercise might help cocaine abusers establish and maintain abstinence.

Well-Known Mechanism Underlies Benzodiazepines' Addictive Properties

Basic Science, Published April 2012
Like opioids and cannabinoids, diazepam and other benzodiazepines take the brakes off activity of dopamine-producing neurons.

New research establishes that benzodiazepines cause addiction in a way similar to that of opioids, cannabinoids, and the club drug GHB. The discovery opens the door to designing new benzodiazepines that counteract anxiety but are not addictive.

Cognitive Strategy Reduces Craving by Altering Brain Activity

Basic Science, Published April 2012
Brain imaging reveals changes when smokers focus on long-term consequences of their tobacco use.

While viewing images of cigarettes, smokers reported milder cravings when they shifted their focus from the pleasures of smoking to its harmful effects. Brain imaging showed a correlation between the reductions in craving and altered activity levels in regions associated with emotional regulation and reward.

Women and Sex/Gender Differences Research Program

NIDA @ Work, Published April 2012

NIDA’s Women and Sex/Gender Differences Research Program focuses on gender-specific addiction risk factors and treatment needs.

High Rates of Job Leaving Among Addiction Counselors

Treatment, Published April 2012

Substance abuse counselors and clinical supervisors disclosed high job turnover rates in a survey of 27 treatment organizations.

Desire to Smoke Subsides, But Cigarette Cues Retain Power

Prevention, Published April 2012

During early abstinence, smokers’ cravings triggered by cigarette cues intensified over time, providing evidence that people can experience a phenomenon previously observed in experiments with animals

Alleviation of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder May Improve Addiction Treatment

Treatment, Published April 2012

Women with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who abused drugs responded better to substance abuse treatment after their PTSD symptoms improved, according to a recent study, which also found that reductions in substance abuse did not ease PTSD severity

Research Focuses on Groups With High Smoking Rates

Director's Perspective, Published April 2012

Dr. Volkow discusses NIDA’s efforts to develop effective antismoking treatments for populations with persistently high rates of smoking, such as people with psychiatric disorders, high school dropouts, and Native Americans.

Tobacco Smokers Have High Probability of Transition to Dependence

Public Health, Published April 2012

First-time smokers have a much higher chance of eventually becoming dependent than first-time users alcohol, cannabis, and cocaine.

Vouchers Improve Mothers’ Smoking Abstinence and Newborns’ Weight

Prevention, Published April 2012

Pregnant women who received financial incentives to refrain from smoking during late pregnancy were more successful at remaining abstinent and less likely to have babies with low birth weight, according to data from three trials.

Antiretroviral Treatment Reduces Spread of HIV Among Injection Drug Users

Treatment, Published April 2012

Expanded use of antiretroviral therapy in British Columbia reduced the spread of HIV among injection drug users and others in the province.

New Method Uncovers How Internal States Influence the Living Brain to Change Behavior

Basic Science, Published March 2012

In an innovative NIDA-funded study, published in Cell, scientists introduced a modified dopamine receptor gene into the brain of a living vinegar fly

Nicotine Dependence Linked to Higher Rates of Mental Disorders Among Teens

Public Health, Published March 2012

A study of teenagers in Chicago public schools finds higher rates of psychiatric disorders among those with more symptoms of nicotine dependence.

Peers Increase Teen Driving Risk via Heightened Reward Activity

Prevention, Published March 2012

Adolescent, but not adult, drivers are more likely to take risks when peers are watching, a new study suggests.

In Animals, Receptor Puts Brakes on Nicotine Consumption

Basic Science, Published March 2012
Findings appear to pinpoint a source of individual differences in smoking rates.

New research suggests that differences in tobacco consumption reflect, in part, differences in the functional efficacy of a specific type of receptor in a pathway of the brain. In animal studies, nicotinic acetylcholine receptors with the α5 subunit played a key role in producing aversive responses to nicotine, thereby dissuading further consumption of the drug.

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