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Basic Science

Gene Variants Reduce Opioid Risks

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.

Basic Science

Marijuana Use May Promote Nicotine Consumption

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.

Epidemiology

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

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.

Treatment

Naltrexone Implant Outperforms Daily Pill in Russian Trial

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.

NIDA @ Work

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

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.

Treatment

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

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.

Treatment

More Convenient Preparations of Buprenorphine Pass Test

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.

Treatment

Buprenorphine During Pregnancy Reduces Neonate Distress

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.

Prevention

Program Helps Troubled Boys Reduce Substance Abuse

Chronically delinquent boys in Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care reduced their substance abuse more than boys assigned to Community Group Care.

Treatment

Prison Use of Medications for Opioid Addiction Remains Low

Describes results from a nationwide survey among correctional facilities on the use of opioid replacement therapy for people who are addicted to heroin.

Treatment

Detoxification Services and Pharmacotherapies Lacking in Nation's Jails and Prisons

Reports findings from a survey that revealed that although substance abuse is prevalent in jails and prisons, many correctional facilities do not offer detoxification services or therapies to aid in maintaining abstinence.

Treatment

Study Supports Methadone Maintenance in Therapeutic Communities

Describes a study that examined the effectiveness of combining two therapies for drug abuse addiction: methadone treatment and therapeutic communities, two approaches that are rarely combined.

Treatment

Medications That Normalize Brain Glutamate Reduce Drug-Seeking in Rats

Reports on two studies that demonstrate the promise of treating addiction with medications that alleviate drug-induced alterations in signaling by the neurotransmitter glutamate.
Treatment

Anticipation of Methadone Enhances Brain Reactivity to Heroin Cues

Describes findings of a study revealing that images of heroin preparation and injection can incite craving and excite brain areas associated with reward-seeking even in methadone-maintained patients.

Treatment

Naltrexone via Skin Patch Proves Effectiveness of New Technology

Reports on a new device that creates tiny painless punctures in the skin to allow medication to flow evenly from a skin patch into dermal capillaries and the bloodstream.

Treatment

Patch Delivers Buprenorphine for Heroin Detox

Describes research on the effectiveness of a buprenorphine patch to alleviate opioid withdrawal symptoms of newly abstinent heroin abusers.

Treatment

Lofexidine May Enhance Naltrexone Efficacy

Highlights results from a pilot study suggesting that lofexidine, an anti-hypertensive medication, can enhance success rates among patients taking maintenance naltrexone to avoid opioid relapse.

Treatment

Methadone Reduces Rats' Cocaine Seeking

Reports on an animal study showing that methadone, normally used as a therapy for opioid abuse, may prove to be an effective treatment for cocaine abuse.

Epidemiology

Reduced Longevity Among Male Heroin Abusers, 1962-1997

Reviews the changing lifespan of heroin abusers as compared with that of the general U.S. population based on 1962-1997 data.

Basic Science

Chromosome 17 Harbors Opioid Dependence Genes

Describes the work of researchers who have found a statistical link between one region on chromosome 17 and an increased risk of opioid dependence.

Journal Highlights Global Nexus of Drug Abuse and HIV/AIDS

Reviews a journal supplement that compiles studies on drug-related HIV transmission, with a focus on injection drug use, in 16 different localities across the globe.

Depot Naltrexone Appears Safe and Effective for Heroin Addiction

Presents results of a pilot study to investigate the safety and efficacy of a new long-lasting injectable formulation of naltrexone to treat of heroin addiction in an outpatient setting.

Interim Methadone Raises Odds of Enrolling in Comprehensive Treatment

Reports on a study to investigate the use of methadone maintenance for heroin addicts wait-listed for a treatment program to encourage their likelihood to enroll in the program.
NIDA Notes

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