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NIDA Notes Articles: Treatment

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

September 2012

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.

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Animation: Building an Anti-Drug Vaccine

December 2012

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.

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Brief Intervention Helps Adolescents Curb Substance Use

January 2013

NIDA-funded researchers have gathered evidence that brief interventions can help adolescents move away from drug use. In a clinical trial, middle and high school students markedly reduced their substance use following two 60-minute sessions that combined motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioral therapy.

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Crime Does Not Increase Around Methadone Clinics in Baltimore

January 2013

Methadone treatment centers are not foci for serious criminal activity, according to a study that used crime reports and global positioning data to compare crime rates at various distances around methadone centers, hospitals, convenience stores, and residential neighborhoods.

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N-Acetylcysteine Postsynaptic Effect Limits Efficacy

January 2013

Clinical trials of N-acetylcysteine to help people recovering from drug abuse avoid relapse have demonstrated only moderate efficacy. New NIDA-supported research shows that while a low dose of the medication activates receptors associated with lowered drug-seeking behavior, a higher dose appears to activate receptors associated with increased drug-seeking behavior. The result suggests that a medication or combination of medications that stimulate the receptor GluR2/3 and block mGluR5 may work better than N-acetylcysteine alone.

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Staff Stress Affects Patients’ Engagement in Therapy

February 2013

Several factors contribute to treatment professionals’ stress and burnout, including how much influence they feel they have in their organization and their caseload. Surprisingly, a NIDA-supported study found that the link between staff stress and burnout was weaker in programs with higher patient caseloads than those with lower caseloads. In addition, program administrators can help counselors reduce their stress by giving them a voice in organizational policies and procedures.  

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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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