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Treatment

Varenicline Helps People With Mental Illness Maintain Abstinence From Smoking

The finding from an 18-month-long clinical trial strengthens hope that pharmacotherapy can break nicotine’s especially tenacious hold on people with serious mental illness such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

Epidemiology

Smoking Cessation Does Not Interfere With Recovery From Substance Use

Despite common concerns that encouraging patients to quit smoking might endanger their success in treatment of substance use and mood or anxiety disorders, smoking cessation appears unlikely to hinder and may even help recovery.

Basic Science

A Genetic Nexus of Obesity and Smoking

Research shows that some gene variants that influence body mass index also shape smoking behaviors.

NIDA @ Work

Dr. Joni Rutter Q&A: How Basic Science Is Tackling Addiction

One of NIDA’s goals is to try to understand the individual differences that contribute to whether or not someone who takes a drug will become addicted to it. Dr. Rutter’s research focuses on three types of differences: Environmental, developmental, and genetic and epigenetic.

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.

Prevention

Intervention Strengthens American Indian Teen Mothers’ Parenting

Teen mothers on three American Indian reservations improved on several measures of parenting after participating in Family Spirit, a home-visiting intervention developed with NIDA support. At 12 months postpartum, the women’s children exhibited reduced rates of emotional difficulties predicting later drug abuse and other behavioral problems. Infants at highest risk—those whose mothers had histories of drug abuse—benefited the most.

Basic Science

Study Finds Genetic Influence on African Americans’ Smoking

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.

Prevention

Women Benefit From Policies To Prevent Teens From Buying Tobacco

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 @ 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

Receptor May Underlie Gender Differences in Response to Smoking Cessation

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.

Epidemiology

Adolescent Cigarette, Alcohol Use Declines as Marijuana Use Rises

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.

Basic Science

Nicotine Makes Mouse Brain More Responsive to Cocaine

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.

Treatment

Animation: Building an Anti-Drug Vaccine

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.

Prevention

Good Behavior Game Wins 2012 Mentor International Best Practice Award

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.

Epidemiology

Adolescent Smoking and Drinking at Historic Lows

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.
Epidemiology

Prevention System Has Lasting Effects, Benefit Exceeds Costs

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.

Epidemiology

Elevated Rates of Drug Abuse Continue for Second Year

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.

Prevention

Desire to Smoke Subsides, But Cigarette Cues Retain Power

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

Prevention

Vouchers Improve Mothers’ Smoking Abstinence and Newborns’ Weight

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.

NIDA @ Work

Women and Sex/Gender Differences Research Program

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

Tobacco Smokers Have High Probability of Transition to Dependence

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

Cognitive Strategy Reduces Craving by Altering Brain Activity

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.

Director's Perspective

Research Focuses on Groups With High Smoking Rates

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.
Epidemiology

Nicotine Dependence Linked to Higher Rates of Mental Disorders Among Teens

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

In Animals, Receptor Puts Brakes on Nicotine Consumption

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.

Bulletin Board

NIDA Announces Avant-Garde Medication Development Awards

Dr. Thomas Kosten of Baylor College of Medicine and Dr. Peter Burkhard of the University of Connecticut are the recipients of NIDA’s 2011 Avant-Garde Awards for Innovative Medication Development Research. Dr. Kosten is developing a vaccine against methamphetamine abuse and Dr. Burkhard is developing a vaccine to counter nicotine addiction.
Prevention

Individual Differences in Decisionmaking Style May Predict Teen Problems

Reports on the relative influence of genes versus environment on adolescents’ choices that involve delayed gratification.

Treatment

Financial Strain Hinders Smoking Cessation

Helping smokers deal with financial problems could improve their chances of staying abstinent after receiving treatment, according to a new study. Participants with the most financial strain had the least success in remaining abstinent.

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.

Basic Science

Resting Brain Studies Shed New Light on Vulnerabilities

Individuals with weak signaling in a nicotine-sensitive brain circuit were more vulnerable to nicotine dependence than those with stronger signaling, according to a study conducted while the subjects’ brains were in a resting state. A second resting-state study finds that the same circuit appears to mediate dependence associated with a genetic risk factor for smoking.

Treatment

Nanotechnology Powers Smart Skin Patch

An in vitro test demonstrates the potential of a programmable skin patch that will enable physicians to tailor transdermal medication doses to match patients' fluctuating needs.

Basic Science

Gene Influences Impact of Maternal Smoking on Children's Behavioral Problems

Describes research showing that the combination of prenatal smoking exposure and specific genes increases children’s and adolescent’s risk for behavior problems.
Treatment

Combination Therapy Most Effective for Helping Smokers Quit

Examines results from a randomized clinical trial which found that treatment with a nicotine patch and nicotine lozenge together produced the greatest benefits in helping people quit smoking and remain abstinent.

Epidemiology

Menthol May Strengthen Nicotine Addiction

Reports on a study of Latino and African-American smokers of menthol cigarettes who did not benefit as much from a month-long smoking cessation program as smokers of non-menthol cigarettes.
Epidemiology

Fewer Girls Are Smoking, But Change Is Uneven

Reports 2010 rates of cigarette smoking among eighth girls, providing historical data and racial and ethnic differences.

Prevention

Prevention Program Averts Initiation of Alcohol and Tobacco Use

Describes a community focused prevention program that aids towns in lowering rates of delinquency, initiation of alcohol and tobacco use, and binge drinking among middle school students.
Prevention

Parental Supervision and Genetics Interact To Influence Nicotine Addiction

Reviews research indicating that both parental influence and certain genes interact to influence nicotine addiction and that parental monitoring may play a role in reducing risk.

Bulletin Board

Addiction Science Award Winners Announced

Announces the 2010 high school student recipients of the Addiction Science Awards and describes their winning addiction-focused projects.
Epidemiology

Adolescent Cigarette Smoking Holds at Lowest Recorded Levels

Discusses 2009 prevalence rates of cigarette, alcohol, prescription drug, and illicit drug use among adolescents and discusses trends in use over time.

Basic Science

Peer Interaction Enhances Adolescent Rats' Drug Reward

Describes an animal study reporting that peer interaction enhances adolescent rats’ drug reward and discusses the impact of these findings to future research on drug reward in social context.
Bulletin Board

Reality Videos Bring NIDA Scientists to Web Site for Teens

Highlights new video clips on NIDA's Web site for teens that explore the dangers of drug abuse and that address questions from youth and their parents on the topic.
Prevention

Vouchers Boost Smoking Abstinence During Pregnancy

Describes a voucher-based reinforcement therapy trial with pregnant smokers to determine its effectiveness in enhancing abstinence rates.
Epidemiology

Substance Abuse and Sexual Risk Show Town-Gown Divide

Compares data on substance abuse and sexual risk among college students and their peers who do not attend college.

Basic Science

Studies Link Family of Genes to Nicotine Addiction

Reports study results suggesting that genes for several acetylcholine receptor proteins influence early smoking responses and the likelihood of nicotine dependence.

Treatment

Smokers Who Quit May Have Genetic Advantage

Describes research providing evidence that genes may influence how successful a person is in quitting smoking and which cessation technique may work best for them.

Basic Science

Nicotine Boosts Mood, Brain Dopamine Levels

Highlights findings from a study showing that nicotine triggers a surge in levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain's main reward area for cigarette smokers.

Basic Science

Sensory Aspects of Smoking May Counter Bad Mood, Craving

Describes study findings revealing that the act of smoking, apart from actual or expected nicotine delivery, may soothe a smoker's negative mood.

Treatment

Abstinent Smokers' Nicotinic Receptors Take More Than a Month to Normalize

Describes research revealing that for up to 6 weeks after smokers quit, their brain cells have more nicotine-binding receptors than nonsmokers, which may explain the struggle to quit.

Epidemiology

Smoking and Drinking Continue to Decline, But Marijuana Stalls in Latest MTF Survey

Highlights trends from a 2008 survey of teenage substance abuse, cigarette smoking and alcohol use and discusses the implications of these changing data.

Basic Science

Ethnic Groups Have Contrasting Genetic Risks for Nicotine Addiction

Describes research exploring differences and similarities in the genetic profiles of African-Americans and European-Americans who are heavy smokers.

Epidemiology

Lower Rates of Cigarette and Marijuana Smoking Among Exercising Teens

Highlights prevalence rates of cigarette and marijuana smoking among teens who exercise regularly as compared with their less active peers.

Prevention

Intervention for Disruptive Children Shows Long-Term Benefits

Reports on research providing evidence that teaching aggressive youngsters social coping skills reduces their chances of becoming substance abusers.

Basic Science

Damage to Brain Area May Immediately Halt Cigarette Addiction

Describes a study among people who had sustained brain injuries to investigate whether certain damaged areas of the brain are associated with the ability to quit smoking.

Basic Science

Adolescent Rats Self-Administer More Nicotine Than Adults

Highlights an animal study involving the self-administration of nicotine among adolescent and adult rats to gain understanding of their potential vulnerability to the substance.

Director's Perspective

Stimulus Money Will Fund a Surge in Knowledge

Describes NIDA’s drug abuse and addiction research priorities for the use of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 funds.

Basic Science

Prenatal Nicotine Exposure May Damage Receptors That Influence Auditory Processing

Reports on a series of animal experiments indicating that nicotine exposure during prenatal fetal development damages a set of receptors in the brain's auditory processing center.

Basic Science

New Tracer for Nicotinic Receptors Promises Improved Specificity

Reports on NIDA researchers who developed a new tracer compound that binds readily to nicotine receptors and enhances positron emission tomography images.

Treatment

Nicotine Dependence is Linked With Mental Disorders in Pregnant Women

Reports on a link between mental disorders, including mood, anxiety, or personality disorder and nicotine dependence in pregnancy women.

Director's Perspective

New Vaccines Are Being Developed Against Addiction and Relapse

Highlights NIDA-funded research to develop vaccines against addiction to drugs such as cocaine, nicotine, phencyclidine (PCP), and methamphetamine.

Basic Science

Imaging Studies Elucidate Neurobiology of Cigarette Craving

Reports on three separate imaging studies illuminating the neurobiology of cigarette craving.

Prevention

Behavioral Problems Related to Maternal Smoking During Pregnancy Manifest Early in Childhood

Describes research providing evidence that maternal smoking during pregnancy contributes to behavioral conduct disorders among toddlers, school-age children, and teens.

Epidemiology

Teen Substance Abuse Continues to Decline

Reports on the prevalence of substance abuse among youth based on 2007 data from a national survey of behaviors, attitudes, and values.

Treatment

Endorphin Derivative Inhibits Reward From Morphine and Nicotine in Rats

Describes research investigating a naturally occurring brain chemical that shows early promise as a treatment for addiction in animal studies.

Vaccine May Reduce Fetal Exposure to Nicotine

Describes research on a vaccine developed to facilitate smoking cessation by blocking nicotine penetration into the brain.
Director's Perspective

Genes and Smoking

Reports on the research underway to identify gene variations associated with nicotine addiction and the interaction of genetic makeup, experiences, and surroundings to addiction.

Naltrexone-Nicotine Patch Combination Shows Promise

Reports findings from a clinical trial investigating the effectiveness of naltrexone as a supplement to nicotine replacement therapy for smoking cessation.

Standard Treatments Help Depressed Smokers Quit

Describes a study comparing Staged Care Intervention, a combination treatment for smoking cessation, among smokers in outpatient treatment for depression and a control group.
Director's Perspective

Addiction and Co-Occurring Mental Disorders

Presents an overview of the research underway to investigate medication and behavioral therapies for co-occurring disorders.

Nicotine Alters the Developing Rat Brain

Describes animal studies that suggested exposure to the drug during gestation or adolescence may cause lasting alterations in reward and motivation circuits.

Marijuana Smoking Is Associated With a Spectrum Of Respiratory Disorders

Highlights two studies suggesting significant associations between marijuana smoking and respiratory disease.

Ethnicity Influences Early Smoking and Progression to Drug Abuse

Summarizes findings from a 10-year study that monitored smoking and progress to other drugs among youth that found ethnicity to be an influential factor.
NIDA Notes

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