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NIDA Notes keeps you up to date on research advances in the causes, consequences, prevention, and treatment of drug abuse and addiction and HIV/AIDS.

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Expanded HIV Screening Projected To Decrease Spread of the Virus (April 2014)

Intensified screening for HIV among injection drug users receiving opioid agonist therapy could prevent more than twice as many new infections as current screening practice. A recent study based on mathematical modeling found that screening every 6 months instead of annually, and adding viral RNA testing to the currently used HIV antibody testing, could improve both effectiveness and cost-effectiveness.

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Study: Treat Jail Detainees’ Drug Abuse To Lower HIV Transmission (March 2014)

Active drug use before incarceration was associated with decreased engagement in HIV treatment among HIV-infected jail detainees. The severity of drug dependence correlated with worsening measures of engagement in HIV treatment. The study concludes that evidence-based treatment for drug abuse in jails may result in improved HIV treatment outcomes, which in turn could help slow HIV-transmission rates in the United States.

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Methamphetamine Alters Brain Structures, Impairs Mental Flexibility (March 2014)

Methamphetamine alters brain structures involved in decision-making and impairs the ability to suppress habitual behaviors that have become useless or counterproductive. The two effects were correlated, indicating that the structural change underlies the decline in mental flexibility.

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Microneedle Milestone: One Week of Transdermal Drug Delivery (March 2014)

Microneedles are an innovative technique for delivering medications through the skin, a route that could particularly benefit patients receiving naltrexone therapy for opioid and alcohol dependence. Researchers have found a way to use the transdermal technique to deliver a single treatment of naltrexone that lasts for 7 days.

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California Reaped Large Savings by Diverting Drug-Using Offenders Into Treatment (February 2014)

California’s Proposition 36, which allows qualified drug offenders to enter substance use treatment rather than go to jail or prison, saved the state close to $100 million in its first year.

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Intervention Strengthens American Indian Teen Mothers’ Parenting (February 2014)

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.

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Stress-Induced Enzyme Compounds Methamphetamine Neurotoxicity (January 2014)

Ketoprofen, an anti-inflammatory agent commonly prescribed to treat arthritis, reduces neuronal damage in rats that have been exposed to chronic stress and methamphetamine. If this finding of a recent NIDA-supported study extrapolates to humans, anti-inflammatory medications may gain a place in the treatment of methamphetamine addiction.

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HIV Infection Accelerates Hepatitis C–Related Liver Fibrosis (January 2014)

Study patients with HIV­­–hepatitis C coinfection progressed to successive degrees of severity of liver fibrosis 9 years sooner than those infected with HCV alone. Further findings from the study suggest that suppressing HIV with antiretroviral medications may slow HCV-related liver fibrosis.

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Prefrontal Cortex Stimulation Stops Compulsive Drug Seeking in Rats (January 2014)

Researchers have shut down laboratory rats’ compulsive cocaine seeking by stimulating an area of the animals’ prefrontal cortex. The finding raises the possibility that stimulating neurons in this brain area may weaken or break cocaine’s grip on the behavior of people who are addicted to the drug.

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American Researcher Dr. Charles O’Brien Knighted by French Government (January 2014)

NIDA grantee Dr. O’Brien was honored for his “exemplary personal commitment to French‒American relations as symbolized by … exceptional cooperation in science and in public health.”

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