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NIDA Notes Articles: Basic Science

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Well-Known Mechanism Underlies Benzodiazepines' Addictive Properties

April 2012
New research establishes that benzodiazepines cause addiction in a way similar to that of opioids, cannabinoids, and the club drug GHB. The discovery opens the door to designing new benzodiazepines that counteract anxiety but are not addictive.

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Study Pinpoints Cognitive Deficits Due to Cocaine, Finds Potential for Recovery

August 2013

New research demonstrated that, in rhesus monkeys, ongoing cocaine exposure weakens two brain functions that people require for successful behavioral change: cognitive flexibility and memory. But the study determined that these changes may not be permanent.

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Study Finds Genetic Influence on African Americans’ Smoking

November 2013

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.

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Studies Link Family of Genes to Nicotine Addiction

December 2009

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

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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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Stress Response May Underlie African- Americans' Reduced Pain Tolerance

October 2006

Summarizes research suggesting a physiological difference as the explanation for African-Americans' reported low tolerance for pain.

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Stress Receptor Mediates Lifelong Consequences of Early Trauma

November 2012

NIDA-supported research suggests that glucocorticoid receptor levels during early brain development affect the hard wiring of neural circuits that shape an individual’s basic emotional makeup. In mice, overexpression of the glucocorticoid gene in the first weeks after birth increased anxiety and response to cocaine in adulthood. These findings may help researchers understand the genetic background and the developmental trajectory of addiction.

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Stimulants in “Bath Salts” Produce Effects Similar to MDMA

August 2013

Mephedrone and methylone, two stimulants commonly found in designer drugs such as “bath salts,” act on the brain much like MDMA (Ecstasy).

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Sensory Aspects of Smoking May Counter Bad Mood, Craving

October 2009

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

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Resting Brain Studies Shed New Light on Vulnerabilities

November 2011

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.

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