Tag Archives: NIDA

Simple Resource from NIDA Helping Criminal Offenders Avoid Relapse

avoid relapseThe National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has developed a new, low-tech tool to help prevent relapse for at-risk offenders leaving prison. The Drugs and the Brain Wallet Card (DBWC) is a resource for former drug users who were incarcerated and are now returning to society. It can also be used by those in early recovery in a number of other settings as well. Clients who have participated in a residential treatment program are at risk of relapse when they return home as well, and the threat of overdose upon relapse is very high.

Card Serves as a Resource Guide

The DBWC is a 2-inch x 3.5-inch trifold card. It’s small enough to be kept in a pocket, purse, wallet or a cell phone case. Someone who is in the process of transitioning into society after being incarcerated or after being treated in a residential program can carry it with them.

One of the panels of the card has a space where the addict or their counselor can fill in individual triggers leading to temptations to use or drink. These may include specific places where the person used to go to drink or use drugs. Other triggers may include certain sights or sounds, such as the neon lights from a bar or glasses clinking and people or situations that are not good for them.

The space on the card can also be used to fill in local resources that can be accessed if the person feels they need help. These resources may include a counselor, a sponsor or a helpline. They would include any person or agency that a person who feels they are at risk of a relapse could reach out to for help quickly.

Community Re-entry Means Increased Risk for Relapse

Anyone who is re-entering the community is at a higher risk for relapse. They don’t have the structure of residential treatment program or the correctional institution in this early phase of their recovery, and it takes time to adjust.

The DBWC is meant to be used in tandem with ongoing addiction treatment. More than 90,000 cards have been distributed since it was introduced last December. In addition to the drug information and resources on the card, for many people having a physical reminder with them of their commitment to sobriety can be much more effective than an app on their phone or another similar tool.

Award-Winning Student Science Project Examines Stress and Addiction

addictionsciencefairAlthough stressful situations in life have been understood as being triggers for substance use disorders, a recent analysis of adolescents conducted by a student found that even negative attitudes about stress can create vulnerability to addiction. Kashfia Rahman, a 15-year old high school student, conducted the research, which was presented at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. It is the world’s largest science competition for high school students.

Rahman’s study, titled Making the Mind Matter, was awarded the Addition Science Award for 2016. The subtitle for the project was Stress Mindset Effects on Sleep Quality, Stress Response, Emotion and Cognition in the Developing Adolescent Brain and the Role of the Prefrontal-Amygdala Circut. She found that there was a direct correlation between a negative outlook on stress and a physical stress response that negatively impacts sleep quality, emotion and cognition. These symptoms create a situation where the adolescents are then more prone to substance abuse and addiction.

“This novel project shows us how a teen’s approach to handling stress can impact addiction vulnerability, particularly in the developing brain,” said NIDA Director Nora D. Volkow, M.D. “Ms. Rahman’s work may ultimately help scientists develop new and innovative programs to prevent substance use.”

The awards were presented at the Phoenix Convention Center in Arizona, and were coordinated by multiple organizations, including the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Ms. Rahman was also a third-place winner last year. It is nice to see science fairs cultivating interest and ingenuity and also encouraging research in fields such as addiction. Hopefully the information found in Ms. Rahman’s study can be used to emphasize other social programs in schools to help not just reduce stress, but also to positively impact thoughts about stress so that less young people become susceptible to addiction.

Survey Shows Use of Alcohol, Painkillers Declining Among Youth

teendrugusemtfThe National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) released results for the 2014 Monitoring the Future (MTF) Survey this past week. The survey outcomes show that the use of alcohol and the abuse of prescription painkillers thankfully are down from 2013, and that teen’s use of marijuana seems stable as compared to last year.

Overall, 41,551 students from 377 public and private schools participated in this year’s MTF survey. Some highlights from the survey results are as follows:

– Past month use of marijuana remained steady for all grade levels. In states with medical marijuana laws, 40 percent of high school seniors reported consuming the drug in food products. Also, the majority of high school seniors did not believe occasional marijuana smoking is harmful.

– Alcohol usage dropped for all grade levels. Binge drinking among high school seniors also significantly dropped to under 20 percent.

– Past year use of narcotics, opioids like Vicodin and cough/cold medications including dextromethorphan continues to decline.

– Past year use of MDMA (Molly) and synthetic marijuana had considerable drops in reported usage. Reported usage of hallucinogenic salvia and bath salts also significantly declined.

NIDA Director Nora D. Volkow, M.D. believes the survey’s results show that prevention efforts are having a positive effect on teens. “It is now more important than ever for the public health community to continue to educate teens, parents, teachers, community leaders, the media and health care providers about the specific harms of drug use among teens, whose brains are still developing,” she said.

“This year’s Monitoring the Future data show promising signs on the declining rates of adolescent substance use, and reinforce the need to continue efforts on prevention, treatment, and recovery,” said National Drug Control Policy Acting Director Michael Botticelli.

Since 1975, the survey has measured drug, alcohol, and cigarette use and related attitudes in 12th graders nationwide. Eighth and 10th graders were added to the survey in 1991. Participants generally report their drug use behaviors across three time periods: lifetime, past year, and past month. NIDA has provided funding for the survey since its inception by a team of investigators at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

New Tool Being Developed to Monitor Drug Trends

cesarndewsThe National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has begun thinking outside of the box when it comes to monitoring drug abuse trends. The government agency has started to monitor social media in an attempt to understand and stay a step ahead of drug trends.

The new monitoring system is called the National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS) and is being developed at the University of Maryland’s Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR) . It is anticipated to take about five years to get the program up and fully functional.

The program is intended to provide essential information to the government agency about drug trends, specific locations where drugs are being sold and abused and perhaps most importantly, to help the agency identify new designer drugs that are hitting the market. Designer drugs are particularly dangerous because of the amounts of chemicals and the lack of testing performed on the drug.

The NDEWS system will not only use data obtained from social media, but it will also use more traditional forms of information as well. These include collections would include surveys, reports from law enforcement agencies and eye witness reports.

Working in conjunction with the NDEWS system, rapid response teams will be deployed to control and reduce drug situations as alerted by the system. The key is that the system will allow law enforcement to respond to drug threats quickly and more efficiently.

This approach, paired with the fact that treatment is necessary in preventing further addiction problems, should work well together. It is clear that in order to combat drug use in our country we cannot focus on one facet of the drug problem. Hopefully this new tool will assist in positively affecting the situation.

Researchers Set to Study the Effect of Marijuana on Adolescent Brains

potattitudesSurprisingly, with all the studies out there relating to drug abuse and human behavior, no one really knows for sure how marijuana affects the developing brain. While some people insist that marijuana is a harmless drug whose medical benefits far outweigh any negative side effects, there is not enough data to say for sure how dangerous or harmless it really is. Now that more and more states have voted to legalize marijuana in some fashion or another, researchers are anxious to study the effects of the drug on developing brains.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is planning to head a study that compares the developing brain of an adolescent who does not consume marijuana over time to the developing brain in an adolescent who uses marijuana. Researchers want to know what effects marijuana has on the developing brain. Along with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Child Health and Development, the groups will fund a large scale research study to hopefully provide answers to questions that have gone unanswered for a long time.

The study will recruit 10,000 adolescents and follow them for at least ten years. Every two years, the young people will receive a brain imaging scan as well as an interview focusing on their drug use. Researchers intend to recruit study participants from lower income families and families with known drug addicts.

Researchers are aware that the biggest hurdle in the study will be to gain the trust of the participants. Accurate, honest answers are the only way the study will be valid. Additionally, the study proves to be extremely expensive. It is projected that the study will cost at least $300 million.

Another question that researchers have to answer is how they are going to maintain the same tools throughout the ten years. Because advancements in technology are being made so quickly, it is likely that whatever imaging tool the study employs will no longer be relevant towards the end of the study.

The medical community is anxious to see the results of the study because it is important to more specifically understand the effects of marijuana on the growing brain.

New Breathalyzer Test For Recent Marijuana Use

breathalyzerAccurate testing of marijuana has presented quite a challenge in the past. This is because, unlike alcohol, THC – the main psychoactive chemical in marijuana – can remain in the bloodstream for weeks making it difficult to determine time of use. Fortunately, this detection window could shrink significantly thanks to a new breath test that could spot recent marijuana use in most cases.

According to research published in September, scientists have developed a new test that can detect whether a person used the drug within the previous ½ to 2.5 hours, depending on frequency of use.

In the wake of marijuana legalization in Colorado, this test could help answer questions surrounding the accurate measurement of THC in the bloodstream as a result of recent use, thereby determining whether a driver is under the influence. Concerns from both sides of the marijuana argument could be addressed with more accurate testing.

Some who opposed the passage of Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana for recreational use by adults, are concerned about a potential influx of impaired drivers and a lack of means to detect the extent of their influence. On the other hand, marijuana advocates are concerned that drivers could be found guilty of driving under the influence even if they were completely sober during testing as a result of the large window for detection.

The ability to pinpoint whether a driver is currently under the influence will support the enforcement of DUI laws and also result in more accurate statistics surrounding marijuana-related accidents. Of course, this new development could be an extremely valuable instrument for testing in the workplace, at schools, by parents and… you get the point.