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.
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.
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.
August 2013 Regular cannabis use that starts in adolescence strips away IQ, a NIDA-supported study suggests. Participants who initiated weekly cannabis use before age 18 dropped IQ points in proportion to how long they persisted in using the drug. Persistent cannabis users’ cognitive difficulties were evident to friends and family and measurable on a battery of tests.
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.
July 2013 Researchers found that 1 in 8 high school seniors had used a prescription opioid nonmedically, and 70 percent of these teens had compounded the attendant risk by co-ingesting an opioid with one or more other drugs. Nonmedical opioid use was significantly more prevalent among whites than among African Americans or Hispanics.
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.
February 2013 Teens who participated in the intervention Strong African American Families‒Teen at age 16 reported fewer conduct problems and depressive symptoms and less substance abuse at age 17‒18, compared to peers exposed to a control intervention.
January 2013 NIDA-funded researchers have gathered evidence that brief interventions can help adolescents move away from drug use. In a clinical trial, middle and high school students markedly reduced their substance use following two 60-minute sessions that combined motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioral therapy.