Archived News Releases

This is Archived Content. This content is available for historical purposes only. It may not reflect the current state of science or language from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). View current news releases on

Learning how to disrupt cocaine’s effects on the brain

 |  Just published research by scientists at NIDA’s Intramural Research Program reveals that the drug cocaine causes neurons to synthesize endocannabinoids that are then enclosed within membrane-bound packages, known as extracellular vesicles. Designing drugs or tools to manipulate the protein interactions underlying vesicle release could provide a new way to counter cocaine addiction.

Changing the way we view opioid receptors

 |  Newly published research from NIDA funded scientists offers new insight into how opioid receptors work to regulate chemical communication in the brain. The researchers discover unexpected receptor mobility and diffusion, and also find that receptor binding and signaling can occur in separate steps.

New discovery on the brain’s reward pathway

 |  Scientists at NIDA’s Intramural Research Program (IRP) have identified a population of neurons engaged in the compulsive nature of food seeking, which, like substance use, engage the brain’s reward circuit. Investigators have identified lateral hypothalamic leptin receptor-expressing neurons as modulators within the hypothalamic-ventral tegmental circuit that relates to motivation and reward.

Healing the altered brains of smokers

 |  A study from NIDA’s Intramural Research Program illuminates the roles of the brain’s striatum and habenula in nicotine withdrawal and reward, suggesting that current medications for smoking cessation are not targeting the optimal parts of the brain, leading to ongoing reward processing deficits that could make pleasurable activities less enjoyable.

Measuring sleep challenges in opioid use disorder patients

 |  A new study at NIDA’s Intramural Research Center measured sleep patterns in opioid use disorder patients and found that clinic appointment hours make a difference in sleep quality. They also documented that when patients use opioids or other drugs while undergoing treatment, it disrupts their sleep.

Teen e-cigarette use doubles since 2017

 |  Data from the 2019 Monitoring the Future Survey of eighth, 10th and 12th graders show alarmingly high rates of e-cigarette use compared to just a year ago, with rates doubling in the past two years.

NASEM releases National Agenda on Children’s Behavioral Health

 |  The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine has released a national scientific agenda on Fostering Healthy Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Development in Children and Youth, recommending a comprehensive approach to better prevent poor outcomes in children related to mental health and substance use. The report notes that despite the development of effective evidence-based programs in recent years, much of what we know has not yet been implemented in many communities, and rates of depression, suicide, and self-harm among young people have actually been increasing.

Parenting programs lead to healthier behaviors

 |  A study conducted among 517 youth in the rural areas of the southeastern United States demonstrates the effectiveness of a parenting enhancement program in both preventing drug use and obesity, two potentially life-threatening conditions for which people living in disadvantaged communities are at an elevated risk.

Similarities between aggressive and addictive behaviors

 |  Scientists from NIDA’s Intramural Research Program show that neural mechanisms that control appetitive aggressive behavior are similar to those that control drug-taking and seeking (relapse), suggesting common neurobiological mechanisms of aggression reward and drug reward.