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NIDA Notes Articles: Treatment Research

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Nicotine Makes Mouse Brain More Responsive to Cocaine

February 2013

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.

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Gabapentin Tested To Treat Marijuana Dependence

April 2013

Marijuana-dependent outpatients who were treated with the medication gabapentin in a pilot clinical trial reduced their cannabis use more and reported fewer symptoms of drug withdrawal than patients who received a placebo.

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Counselors’ Perceptions of Organizational Justice and Support Predict Job Turnover

May 2013

Forty-seven percent of substance abuse treatment counselors in a national sample left their jobs voluntarily within 3 years.

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Receptor May Underlie Gender Differences in Response to Smoking Cessation

May 2013

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.

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Oxycodone Vaccine Passes Early Tests

May 2013

A new vaccine hindered the often-abused prescription opioids oxycodone and hydrocodone from entering the brain and suppressed one of the drugs’ signature central nervous system effects. The findings warrant continued development of the vaccine as a potential aid in the treatment of oxycodone and hydrocodone abuse and dependence.

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

September 2013

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.

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Study Parses Comorbidity of Cannabis Use and Social Anxiety

October 2013

People with cannabis use disorder (CUD) are likely also to have social anxiety disorder (SAD), and comorbid SAD is associated with greater severity of cannabis-related problems. These findings highlight the importance of assessing CUD patients for SAD, as that disorder can be both a contributing cause and a consequence of CUD. Treating both disorders may be a key to helping patients recover from each.

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Naltrexone Implant Outperforms Daily Pill in Russian Trial

November 2013

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.

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Medications That Treat Opioid Addiction Do Not Impair Liver Health

December 2013

A trial of buprenorphine/naloxone (Bup/Nx) showed no evidence that the medicine was associated with liver damage. The drug gave results similar to those of methadone. The study data indicate that although most patients can be treated safely with either methadone or Bup/Nx without major concern for liver injury, clinicians are advised to continue to monitor the liver health of their patients who are on methadone or Bup/Nx therapy.

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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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