February 2014 This past weekend Americans were shocked and saddened to learn that one of our greatest actors, Philip Seymour Hoffman, had died at age 46 of an apparent heroin overdose. Hoffman’s death, in the prime of his life and career, is a poignant reminder of some of the harsh realities of a disease that 17.7 million Americans struggle with and that all too often cuts their lives short. Read More.
January 2014 This week—January 27 through February 2—is the fourth annual National Drug Facts Week. Every year since 2010, NIDA has sponsored this observance, during which schools and other community organizations host events to share and spread the science on drugs and drug abuse to teenagers. Read More.
December 2013 Every year, the NIDA-supported Monitoring the Future (MTF) survey conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan asks 8th, 10th, and 12th graders across the country about their current and past drug use and their attitudes toward drug use, providing us with an invaluable barometer of youth drug trends from year to year. Read More.
December 2013 A professor of psychology (neuroscience) at Harvard Medical School and a long-time NIDA grantee, Mello was a pioneer in the study of addiction, having done some of the first laboratory research on alcohol self-administration and withdrawal effects in people with alcoholism. In 1985, Mello and her husband, Jack H. Mendelson, MD, published Alcohol Use and Abuse in America, which examined the history of alcohol in American society as well as the biology of alcohol abuse. Both also made major contributions to our understanding of other substance use disorders, exemplified by their 1980 Science paper, which was the first to suggest that the drug buprenorphine could be used to treat opioid dependence. A little over two decades later, buprenorphine received FDA approval, and is now one of the most commonly used and effective treatments available for opioid addiction. Read More.
November 2013 December 1 is World AIDS Day. At NIDA, we always stress the principle that drug abuse treatment is AIDS prevention, because of the close links that exist between drug abuse and the spread of HIV. Injection drug use alone contributed to more than 7% of new infections in 2011, although the population of people who use drugs by any route who are also HIV-positive is much higher. Drug use goes hand-in-hand with various behaviors besides needle-sharing that place individuals at risk for HIV infection, such as unprotected sex. Read More.
November 2013 Recently, I had the privilege of visiting Dharamsala, India, for a dialogue with His Holiness the Dalai Lama about addiction science, as part of a five-day conference at his Mind and Life Institute. I was very impressed at the Tibetan Buddhist leader’s personal interest in the brain, and in his desire to convene a small group of scientists from around the world along with Buddhist contemplatives and other scholars to discuss the topic of craving, desire, and addiction. Read More.
November 2013 Addiction goes hand in hand with other mental illnesses. People with psychiatric conditions smoke at twice to four times the rate of the general population, and they are estimated to purchase nearly half of all cigarettes sold in this country. Yet physicians have tended to ignore the smoking behavior of their psychiatric patients. Read More.
September 2013 In tough fiscal times, scientists from a wide range fields worry that their area of research will be disproportionately hurt. As the Director of NIDA, my job is to ensure that we continue to support a balanced portfolio that makes the most of the scientific opportunities that are emerging and stands the best chance of improving the public’s health. Read More.
September 2013 September is National Recovery Month—an annual recognition of the fact that millions of Americans suffer from addiction and other mental disorders, which can be successfully treated, allowing people to live healthy, rewarding lives. Read More.