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NIDA Notes Articles: ABCD, Brain, Children, Pre-Teens and Teens

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A Rapid Teen Substance Use Screening Tool for Clinicians

July 2015
Answers to three simple questions can help a busy health care provider flag a teen’s problematic use of alcohol, tobacco, or marijuana.

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Electronic Questionnaire Quickly Rates Teens’ Substance Use

July 2015
With a few simple questions, a new screening tool detects whether a teen is likely to have a mild-to-moderate or a severe substance use disorder.

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Animation: The Rise and Fall of the Cocaine High

November 2014
This animation shows the rapid passage of cocaine through the brain. It demonstrates that the intensity of the cocaine “high” parallels the trajectory of cocaine levels in the brain.

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Among High School Seniors, Driving After Marijuana Use Surpasses Drunk Driving

July 2014
Within the 2 weeks prior to responding to a nationwide survey, 28 percent of high school seniors were in a vehicle whose driver had been using marijuana or another illicit drug, or had drunk 5 or more alcoholic drinks.

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Dr. Antonello Bonci Q & A: Lighting Up the Brain To Shut Down Cocaine Seeking

July 2014
The Scientific Director of NIDA’s Intramural Research Program talks about switching off animals’ compulsive cocaine seeking by optogenetically activating the prefrontal cortex, and the implications of this work for people. In an accompanying podcast, Dr. Bonci walks viewers through experiments that showed that prefrontal cortex activity levels may constitute a simple switch controlling whether or not animals compulsively seek cocaine.

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In Nationwide Survey, More Students Use Marijuana, Fewer Use Other Drugs

April 2014
Almost one-third (32 percent) of the roughly 42,000 Monitoring the Future survey respondents reported having used marijuana during their lifetime. However, abuse of many other drugs—methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, and some prescription medications—declined.

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Methamphetamine Alters Brain Structures, Impairs Mental Flexibility

March 2014
Methamphetamine alters brain structures involved in decision-making and impairs the ability to suppress habitual behaviors that have become useless or counterproductive. The two effects were correlated, indicating that the structural change underlies the decline in mental flexibility.

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Prefrontal Cortex Stimulation Stops Compulsive Drug Seeking in Rats

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.

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Women Benefit From Policies To Prevent Teens From Buying Tobacco

November 2013
Women who reached their majority in states with policies that restricted teens’ access to tobacco products were less likely to smoke from ages 18-34 than women in states without those policies. The research did not demonstrate that the policies had a comparable impact on men’s smoking.

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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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