Reflecting on 30 Years of Research: A Look at How NIDA Has Advanced the Research, Prevention, and Treatment of Drug Abuse and Addiction

By Condon, Timothy P. | Behavioral Healthcare, May 2006 | Go to article overview

Reflecting on 30 Years of Research: A Look at How NIDA Has Advanced the Research, Prevention, and Treatment of Drug Abuse and Addiction


Condon, Timothy P., Behavioral Healthcare


In the more than 30 years since the establishment of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), significant strides have been made in understanding the biologic basis of addiction. This progress--largely the product of NIDA-sponsored research--has advanced the concept of addiction as a complex disease process, and in doing so, has ushered in a new era in addiction prevention and treatment.

Using cutting-edge technologies, NIDA-supported scientists are elucidating the neural circuitry and chemistry mediating addiction and laying the groundwork for the development of pharmacologic and behavioral therapies that target distinct components of the addiction disease process. Through this work scientists are also gaining insight into the factors that determine biologic vulnerability to addiction.

NIDA-sponsored research is also detailing the effects of drug abuse on major organ systems of the body, thereby broadening our understanding of the health consequences associated with substance addiction. In an effort to improve the effectiveness and implementation of new addiction treatments, NIDA has launched pioneering research and dissemination initiatives aimed at evaluating treatments in real-world settings and developing products that facilitate the rapid and high-fidelity implementation of this research.

Addiction is a Brain Disease

The response to substance abuse in America has cycled between periods of relative tolerance and intolerance. Lacking empiric evidence to the contrary, many have viewed drug addiction as either a consequence of psychological disease or a matter of personal choice. These conceptions of addiction gave rise to treatments that, while steeped in good intentions, typically lacked a scientific basis and often delivered uneven results.

The groundbreaking discovery in the 1970s of an endogenous opioid system in the brain provided scientists with specific cellular and molecular clues that addiction is primarily a biologic disease. In the ensuing years, advances in molecular biology, genetics, and neuroimaging technologies allowed scientists to begin piecing together the brain's reward pathways, and to elucidate how these pathways are activated and altered by the acute and chronic use of illicit drugs.

These NIDA-sponsored research efforts have revealed compelling evidence that addiction is a brain disease that arises through the complex interaction of genetic, behavioral, and environmental factors and, as such, is most effectively prevented and treated through research-based approaches.

Pharmacotherapies for Addiction

The discovery that addiction reflects the "hijacking" of reward and reinforcement pathways in the brain has provided researchers with potential targets for pharmacotherapies aimed at interrupting key stages in the development of addiction. Much of this effort has focused on the discovery of agents to curb craving--an important factor in relapse to drug taking. Also under development are medications to ease the withdrawal symptoms that accompany detoxification, "vaccines" for blocking drug-induced euphoria and relapse to addiction, and treatments to reverse the effects of drug overdose.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The Consequences of Addiction: It's Not All in Your Head

NIDA-sponsored research has also shown that drug abuse can have acute and long-term consequences for multiple organ systems. Not surprisingly, the nervous system is hardest hit by addiction. Chronic use of some drugs can produce significant cognitive impairments that may persist long after the cessation of drug taking. Additionally, drugs of abuse can affect regulatory centers in the brain resulting in potentially fatal disruption of autonomic functions such as respiration and body temperature. Drugs of abuse can also impact cardiovascular function. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Reflecting on 30 Years of Research: A Look at How NIDA Has Advanced the Research, Prevention, and Treatment of Drug Abuse and Addiction
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.