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NIDA Notes Articles: Heroin, Opioids, Pain Medication and Prescription Drugs

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Q&A: Dr. David Thomas

November 2012
NIDA Program Officer Dr. David Thomas speaks about the intertwined problems of pain and prescription opioid abuse, as well as the research supported by NIDA and the National Institutes of Health to address these problems.

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Potential Pain Medication Targets Peripheral Nerves

September 2012
Researchers report a significant advance in the search for medications that can suppress pain but avoid opioids’ abuse potential and other undesirable CNS effects. A new compound reduces mouse responses in animal models of neurogenic and chronic inflammatory (e.g., arthritic) pain. The compound, called UB937, enhances the natural pain-killing activity of the neurotransmitter anandamide, and exerts its analgesic effects entirely in peripheral tissues, without entering the brain.

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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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Few Teens With Prescription Opioid Use Disorders Receive Treatment

July 2012
Fewer than 12 percent of adolescents who meet diagnostic criteria for prescription opioid abuse or dependence receive any treatment, according to an analysis of data from the 2005 to 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The most common reason the adolescents gave for not receiving treatment was their lack of perceived need for it.

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More Convenient Preparations of Buprenorphine Pass Test

July 2012
Soluble-film preparations of buprenorphine suppressed heroin abusers’ withdrawal symptoms with no serious side effects in a recent clinical trial. They dissolved more rapidly in the mouth than the pill form of the medication, providing faster relief.

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Buprenorphine During Pregnancy Reduces Neonate Distress

July 2012
Sublingual buprenorphine is a safe and effective alternative to methadone for treating opioid dependence during pregnancy, finds the Maternal Opioid Treatment: Human Experimental Research (MOTHER) study, a NIDA-supported clinical trial. Women who received either medication had similar pregnancy and birth outcomes, but infants born to women who received buprenorphine had milder symptoms of neonatal opioid withdrawal.

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Elevated Rates of Drug Abuse Continue for Second Year

June 2012
Illicit drug use in the United States in 2010 was at its highest level since 2002, according to the most recent report from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. A rise in marijuana use drove the increase. A favorable trend of falling cocaine use continued.

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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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Program Helps Troubled Boys Reduce Substance Abuse

December 2011
Chronically delinquent boys in Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care reduced their substance abuse more than boys assigned to Community Group Care.

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Prison Use of Medications for Opioid Addiction Remains Low

July 2011
Describes results from a nationwide survey among correctional facilities on the use of opioid replacement therapy for people who are addicted to heroin.

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