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Oxycodone pills spilling out of a bottle

Opioid Use Disorders and Suicide: A Hidden Tragedy (Guest Blog)

April 2017
In 2015, over 33,000 Americans died from opioids—either prescription drugs or heroin or, in many cases, more powerful synthetic opioids like fentanyl. Hidden behind the terrible epidemic of opioid overdose deaths looms the fact that many of these deaths are far from accidental. They are suicides. Guest blog by Dr. Maria Oquendo Read More.


Image showing lethal doses of Heroin and Fentanyl

Addressing America’s Fentanyl Crisis

April 2017
Every day, 91* Americans fatally overdose on an opioid drug. It may be a prescription analgesic or heroin but increasingly it is likely to be heroin’s much more potent synthetic cousin fentanyl. In the space of only two years, fentanyl has tragically escalated the opioid crisis. *Update: Overdose rates seen in 2018 are more than 115 a day. Read More.


Photo of marijuana coming out of a prescription bottle

NASEM Report Recommends Removing Barriers to Cannabis Research

February 2017
The new report is based on reviews of research on both the cannabis plant itself and its constituents, but its conclusions are substantially similar to the 1999 report: While cannabis use, particularly smoked cannabis, poses some long-term health and safety risks, there is evidence that cannabis or cannabinoids can treat certain medical conditions, which include nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy, spasticity from multiple sclerosis, and pain. Read More.


Dr. Leanna S. Wenn, Baltimore City Health Commissioner

Improving Access to Substance Use Disorder Treatment in Baltimore City (Guest Blog)

February 2017
Tackling the opioid crisis and overdose epidemic in our nation is a task that involves partnerships among stakeholders at all levels: federal, state, and local governments and other organizations and health care systems in the community. Read More.


Image of year changing from 2016-2017

Taking Stock of NIDA’s Achievements and Looking to the Future

January 2017
The need for better substance use disorder treatments, better diagnostic methods, and better prevention strategies has never been greater. The beginning of a new year gives us an opportunity to take stock of all we have recently accomplished toward meeting these scientific goals, as well as to set our sights on the challenges facing us ahead. Read More.


Image of marijuana plants

As Some States Implement New Marijuana Laws, Science Should Guide Public Health Policy

December 2016
After the election on November 8, marijuana is now or will soon be legal for adult recreational use in eight states plus the District of Columbia. Careful thought should be given to creating regulatory frameworks that prioritize public health. Science needs to be the guide. Read More.


World AIDS day graphic

Syringe-Exchange Programs Are Part of Effective HIV Prevention

December 2016
One of the best available strategies for reducing the spread of HIV among drug users is syringe-exchange programs (also called syringe service programs); their effectiveness has been proven through abundant research. Read More.

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Addiction in America

The Surgeon General’s Report: Facing Addiction in America

November 2016
Today marks, I hope, another turning point in our country’s health, as Surgeon General Vivek Murthy released Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health. It is the first such report released by the Surgeon General on the health consequences alcohol and drug misuse. Read More.


The word addiction in bold on a printed dictionary page

Rethinking How We Talk About Addiction

October 2016
People with substance use disorders and other mental health issues face greater stigma than those with other illnesses. Many of the addiction-related terms widely used in our society—even in the addiction field—retain an implicit moral judgment and subtly frame drug problems as transgressions worthy of punishment. Read More.


Image of a stethoscope on a pregnant woman

Medical Marijuana Might Not Be a Safe Nausea Solution for Pregnant Women

September 2016
Medical marijuana is becoming more widely accepted and it is being used for a wide range of conditions. Scientific evidence of its effectiveness for most indications is still slim or nonexistent, but one of the few that are actually well supported is nausea (emesis) from cancer chemotherapy. While it may seem logical to treat the nausea of pregnancy with marijuana, women who do this could be putting their child at risk of neurodevelopmental and other problems. Read More.



Dr. Nora Volkow: Remarks and Video Highlights

APA 2015 meeting

  • Marijuana as a Cure for Opioid Use? Nation's Top Drug Scientist Says She's Skeptical, March 2019
  • Meet the Woman Leading the Nation's War on Addiction, October 2018
  • Aspen Ideas Festival 2018: Shining Light on Less Visible Prescription Drug Epidemics, June 2018
  • Dr. Nora Volkow on Addiction: A Disease of Free Will, May 2015
  • TEDMED, January 2015
    Why do our brains get addicted?
  • The World Science Festival, April 2014
    The Moth: The Brain's Addiction - Nora Volkow
  • CBS 60 Minutes, April 2012
    Hooked: Why Bad Habits Are Hard to Break 

About This Blog

Dr. Nora Volkow

Here I highlight important work being done at NIDA and other news related to the science of drug use and addiction.
—Dr. Nora Volkow, Director

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