January 2014 Researchers have shut down laboratory rats’ compulsive cocaine seeking by stimulating an area of the animals’ prefrontal cortex. The finding raises the possibility that stimulating neurons in this brain area may weaken or break cocaine’s grip on the behavior of people who are addicted to the drug.
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.
February 2013 Fewer teens are using cigarettes, alcohol, and most illicit drugs, according to NIDA’s latest Monitoring the Future study. Troubling trends persist in marijuana use, however, and nonmedical prescription drug use remains a concern.
Study findings indicate that children exposed to methamphetamine prenatally show more signs of increased emotionality, anxiety, and depression than nonexposed children at ages 3 and 5 years.
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.