Crane: A new funding opportunity has been announced by the National Institutes of Health and the Veterans' Administration that will support research on substance abuse and associated problems among U.S. military personnel, veterans and their families. The funding opportunities will focus on the causes, screening and identification, prevention, and treatment of substance use, and abuse, plus associated problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder. Three NIH institutes, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and the National Cancer Institute, are jointly collaborating with the Department of Veterans Affairs, to fund grants worth seven million dollars for research in this area.
Reider: The idea is to both prevent problems and treat problems.
Crane: Dr. Eve Reider is a researcher with the National Institute on Drug Abuse. She says the funding opportunity stems from a meeting held in January to gain a better understanding of the substance abuse intervention needs of military personnel, veterans, and their families, and to develop recommendations for prevention and treatment research priorities.
Reider: So it's about harnessing all this expertise to move things forward to help everybody.
Crane: There is a growing awareness that returning military personnel—whatever their overseas role—need help confronting a variety of war related problems including traumatic brain injury, post traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, and substance abuse, of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs. Many of these problems are interconnected—they contribute to individual health and family relationship crises—yet there has been little research on how to prevent and treat the unique characteristics of wartime related substance abuse issues.
Reider: So there's huge stigma regarding getting mental health and drug abuse treatment. I think in our public in general these are big problems, and in the military specifically.
Crane: Each agency will fund grants relevant to its mission. Dr. Reider emphasizes the importance of this research.
Reider: We want to do everything in our power as they say to bring the power of science to bear on these problems, so that we can both prevent and treat as many problems as possible for all of these people. And there's a lot of work that needs to be done, I would say, for many years to come.
Crane: The deadline for grant applications is December 22, 2009. For more information visit www.drugabuse.gov. This is Kristine Crane, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.