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National Institute on Drug Abuse News Release NIDA News Release
FOR RELEASE, November 1, 1999 Contact: Beverly Jackson
Michelle Muth

National, Local Drug Addiction Experts Join Forces at Seattle Town Meeting To Discuss Substance Abuse Science, Prevention, and Treatment

Club drugs, cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamines and other illicit drugs are widely abused in Seattle and its surrounding areas; there are an estimated 15,000 intravenous drug users in King County, alone. Drugs in Seattle represent a huge human and economic toll.

A toll so high that the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), one of the National Institutes of Health, has scheduled its next Town Meeting in Seattle to bring together national and local substance abuse experts to discuss the most recent science-based advances in treatment and prevention.

The following statistics taken from a June 1999 NIDA report of drug abuse in 21 metropolitan areas illustrate some of the reasons why Seattle was selected for a Town Meeting:

  • Almost 57 of the women and 36 percent of the men arrested in Seattle test positive for cocaine.

  • Seattle was the only area, out of 21 metropolitan areas, where women arrestees were more likely than men (37.9 vs. 35.4 percent) to test positive for marijuana.

  • More than 91 percent of the drug-related deaths in King County involved more than one substance.

  • A recent survey of young gay men in King County showed that 20 percent reported using ecstasy.

  • There are continuing anecdotal reports of GHB use and overdose, and local emergency rooms continue to report GHB-related cases of rape and other criminal behavior.

"We know from research that drug abuse is a preventable behavior and drug addiction is a treatable illness," says Dr. Alan I. Leshner, NIDA's Director. "One of NIDA's most important goals is to help the public better understand the nature of addiction and the means to prevent and treat it. Town meetings such as this one in Seattle enable us to share our research findings--especially those about the actions and effects of drugs on the brain--directly with the public."

The Town Meeting will take place on Wednesday, November 10, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., at the DoubleTree Hotel Seattle Airport. Dr. Leshner, one of the country's foremost experts on drug abuse research, will lead discussions on approaches for addressing local and statewide issues of drug abuse and addiction. He will be joined by representatives of local co-sponsors, including the Office of the Governor; the Office of the Lieutenant Governor; the Washington State Senate; the University of Washington Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Institute; and the Department of Social and Health Services, Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse.

Seattle Mayor Paul Schell; King County Executive Ron Sims; Lt. Governor Brad Owen; U.S. Representative James McDermott; Director, Division of Substance Abuse Services Ken Stark; and Secretary of the Department of Social and Health Services Lyle Quasim have been invited to participate.

University of Washington researchers Drs. Charles Chavkin, Dennis Donavan, Alan Marlatt, and Richard Catalano and scientists from other universities and from NIDA will discuss topics such as new addiction treatment medications; behavioral treatment approaches; how addictive drugs affect the brain; drug abuse and co-occurring disorders; HIV, hepatitis, and other health consequences of drug abuse; and prevention planning.

The Seattle Town Meeting will also feature the NIDA Research Gallery, a presentation by NIDA researchers from the State of Washington.

The meeting is a rare opportunity for policymakers, civic leaders, the public, scientists, state officials, drug abuse prevention and treatment professionals, health care providers, and criminal justice workers to exchange information with NIDA staff and grantees. It will be a forum for exploring ways to use research to strengthen prevention and treatment efforts in Seattle and surrounding areas.

Note to reporters: Members of the media who would like to attend the Town Meeting, or arrange an interview with Dr. Leshner or other participants, should contact Michelle Muth at the NIDA Press Office, 301-594-6141.

NIDA supports more than 85 percent of the world's research on the health aspects of drug abuse and addiction. The Institute also carries out a large variety of programs to ensure the rapid dissemination of research information and its implementation in policy and practice. Fact sheets on health effects of drugs of abuse and other topics can be ordered free of charge in English and Spanish, by calling NIDA Infofax at 1-888-NIH-NIDA (-644-6432) or 1-888-TTY-NIDA (-889-6432) for the deaf. These fact sheets and further information on NIDA research and other activities can be found on the Home page at

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