NIDA's History and Background
For important events in NIDA’s history, visit www.nih.gov/about/almanac/organization/NIDA.htm.
Keeping an eye on drug use trends among teens to guide intervention strategies. Substance use among American youth is a continually changing phenomenon. Through its Monitoring the Future Survey of 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-grade students nationwide, NIDA continues to monitor these changes and identify emerging substance use problems to better guide effective intervention approaches. For example, while overall teen drug use showed a significant decline from the mid-1990s to the mid- to late-2000s, recent years have seen an upward trend in marijuana use.
Identifying the molecular sites and systems in the brain where every major addictive drug has its effect. Such discoveries have led to the development and approval of nicotine replacement therapies for cigarette smoking cessation and new medications like buprenorphine, now prescribed by physicians in office settings, for opioid addiction.
Discovering a new communications network that opens the way to novel medical therapies. NIDA-supported research was pivotal to the discovery of a cannabinoid system that is distributed throughout the brain and body and is composed of the body’s own compounds that are chemically related to marijuana’s active ingredient. This network promises new and novel interventions for a range of diseases and conditions, including addiction, obesity, pain, osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, and anxiety disorders.
Demonstrating that addiction is a treatable disease. Medications and behavioral treatments can provide long-lasting benefits for people trying to overcome addiction, especially when used together. Addiction treatment promotes continued abstinence, which can reverse some of the detrimental brain changes caused by addiction, as shown in pioneering imaging studies. Successful drug abuse treatment also reduces crime and other societal costs, including health costs, now in the billions.
Optimizing research findings to create individually tailored treatments. Researchers are taking advantage of ongoing discoveries from the Human Genome Project, identifying genetic markers of complex disorders such as addiction. Now, gene variants are being discovered that can predict who will respond to a medication and who will not. These breakthroughs herald a new era of individualized therapies that will optimize outcomes, promote cost efficiency, and relieve suffering.
Decreasing the spread of HIV. Through the development of treatments for injection drug use (IDU), NIDA has contributed to the decline in IDU-associated HIV infections. Innovative community-based research shows that drug abuse treatment reduces risk behaviors leading to HIV transmission; thus, drug abuse treatment is HIV/AIDS prevention.
Changing the course of drug abuse treatment in this country. NIDA engages in myriad efforts to “translate” the results of basic and clinical research for real-world use. Our goal is to get research-based treatments into the hands of providers in community treatment centers, the criminal justice system, and physicians’ offices. To that end, NIDA has established collaborative networks of researchers and practitioners, Federal agencies, and State substance abuse directors to integrate research findings into drug abuse treatment settings nationwide.
National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse. Congress, under 42 U.S.C. 284a of the Public Health Service Act, requires that each NIH Institute (including NIDA) have an Advisory Council that assists the Institute in its efforts to identify, review, and support the highest caliber of scientific research. As part of its responsibilities, each Advisory Council participates in the grant review process for its Institute, providing recommendations on which research applications will best advance the Institute’s research goals and mission.
NIDA’s Advisory Council, the National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse, was established on January 3, 1973. It consists of 18 members: 12 scientific experts and six people from the general public who are leaders in the fields of public policy, law, health policy, economics, or management. The Council also consists of five non-voting members or their designees—the HHS Secretary, the NIH Director, the NIDA Director, the Chief Medical Director of the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs. More information on the Council can be found at www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/advisory-boards-groups/national-advisory-council-drug-abuse-nacda.
NIDA Outreach and Education Activities
For the Professional Community
NIDA Notes, an e-newsletter that disseminates research findings to 100,000 professionals worldwide. www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/nida-notes
Preventing Drug Use among Children and Adolescents: A Research-Based Guide, which describes the most successful concepts for preventing drug use among young people.
Treatment Principles Series
Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide, developed for use in community and clinical settings. www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment
Principles of Drug Abuse Treatment for Criminal Justice Populations: A Research-Based Guide, to inform drug treatment programs in criminal justice settings. www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-abuse-treatment-criminal-justice-populations
Principles of Adolescent Substance Use Disorder Treatment: A Research-Based Guide, describing the many treatment approaches available to address the unique needs of teens with substance use disorders. www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-adolescent-substance-use-disorder-treatment-research-based-guide
For the General Public
NIDA DrugFacts is a series of plain language fact sheets highlighting specific drugs, trends in use, and prevention and treatment issues. The fact sheets are available in English, with some also available in Spanish. www.drugabuse.gov/publications/term/160/DrugFacts
NIDA Research Reports are online reports simplifying current research findings for the educated lay public, legislators, educational groups, and practitioners. Some reports are also available in Spanish. www.drugabuse.gov/publications/term/162/Research%2520Reports
Seeking Drug Abuse Treatment: Know What to Ask, distills NIDA’s Treatment Principles into easy-to-understand language. It offers families guidance in seeking drug abuse treatment and lists five questions to ask when searching for a treatment program. www.drugabuse.gov/publications/seeking-drug-abuse-treatment
Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction is a plain language booklet that discusses the reasons that people take drugs, why some people become addicted while others do not, how drugs work in the brain, and how addiction can be prevented and treated. www.drugabuse.gov/publications/science-addiction
Family Checkup is an online resource that equips parents with research-based skills to help keep their children drug free. www.drugabuse.gov/family-checkup
Easy-to-Read DrugFacts Web site on drug abuse provides plain language information on neuroscience, and drug abuse prevention and treatment. It is also a resource for adult literacy educators. www.easyread.drugabuse.gov
NIDA TV is a central location for all NIDA videos and public service announcements. www.drugabuse.gov/nida-tv
For Young People, Their Parents, and Educators
NIDA for Teens: The Science Behind Drug Abuse is an interactive Web site that includes information about various addictive drugs and their consequences, focused on ages 11-15. www.teens.drugabuse.gov
Marijuana: Facts for Teens and Marijuana: Facts Parents Need to Know are two of NIDA’s most popular publications. www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana-facts-teens and www.drugabuse.gov/publications/marijuana-facts-parents-need-to-know
The Mind Over Matter series is for grades 5–9. The series, complete with a teacher’s guide, highlights the effects of drugs on the brain and encourages the study of science. Spanish translation also available. www.teens.drugabuse.gov/educators/lesson-plans-and-materials/mind-over-matter
Brain Power! The NIDA Junior Scientist Program, for use in K–5th-grade classrooms. www.drugabuse.gov/brain-power
NIDA teams with Scholastic, a leading provider of educational materials for children and teachers, to bring ongoing science-based information about drug use to millions of U.S. school children between the ages of 3-12. http://headsup.scholastic.com/
Health Education Campaigns
National Drug Facts Week (NDFW), a health observance week at the end of January, connects teens with experts to shatter the myths about drugs. Drug Facts Chat Day, held during NDFW, provides an online opportunity for students from around the country to ask questions about drugs and to have them answered by top NIDA scientists via a Web chat. www.teens.drugabuse.gov/national-drug-facts-week
PEERx, a campaign for teens highlighting the dangers of prescription drug abuse, offers interactive videos allowing teens to make decisions about everyday dilemmas. www.teens.drugabuse.gov/peerx
Game Plan, a public awareness campaign, reminds young people about the dangers of using steroids to enhance performance. Spanish translation also available. www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/public-education-projects/public-service-announcements/game-plan-keep-your-body-healthy
Drug Abuse and HIV: Learn the Link campaign educates young people about the connection between substance use and HIV infection. Spanish translation also available. www.hiv.drugabuse.gov
NIDAMED: NIDA's Outreach to Clinicians
Screening Tools: NIDAMED provides tools and resources clinicians can use to screen patients for tobacco, alcohol, and illicit and prescription drug abuse, including an interactive online drug use screening tool. www.drugabuse.gov/nmassist/
Continuing Medical Education Courses: NIDA (along with the Office of National Drug Control Policy) offers online training tools for health care providers on proper prescribing and patient management practices for opioid analgesics (painkillers). www.drugabuse.gov/nidamed/etools
Medical School Curricula: NIDA’s Centers of Excellence for Physician Information program provides scientifically accurate information on substance use, addiction, and its consequences to help meet the educational needs of medical students, residents, and medical school faculty. www.drugabuse.gov/coe
All NIDAMED resources can be found at www.drugabuse.gov/nidamed-medical-health-professionals.
Addiction is an Emmy Award–winning HBO documentary produced in collaboration with NIDA, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The film explores drug and alcohol abuse through the eyes of those who suffer from this devastating disease, with the added perspective of scientific and clinical experts working to better understand and treat it.
Addiction Science Awards are the first National Institutes of Health awards given at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, the world’s largest high school science fair.
The Blending Initiative, in partnership with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, accelerates the dissemination of research-based treatment findings into community-based practice.
To see what publications are available free, in hard copies, contact NIDA DRUGPubs at 1-877-NIDA-NIH or firstname.lastname@example.org.