NIDA Notes Archives

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For 30 years, NIDA Notes provided in-depth coverage of research findings on drug misuse and addiction. NIDA Notes was discontinued in 2021.  

Asymmetry in the Nucleus Accumbens May Be Linked with Substance Dependence

 |  A NIDA-funded study found that people with some types of substance dependence exhibited less rightward asymmetry of the nucleus accumbens than did people without dependence. Additionally it found that reduced asymmetry in the nucleus accumbens was observed specifically in people with alcohol or nicotine dependence, but not in those with cocaine, methamphetamine, or cannabis dependence.

Treating Hepatis C Virus and Opioid Use Disorder Together Benefits Patients

 |  This study found that people with hepatitis C virus (HCV) who inject drugs, offering buprenorphine treatment for opioid use disorder at the same location as HCV treatment resulted in high rates of buprenorphine initiation. People who started and maintained buprenorphine during HCV treatment experienced numerous clinical benefits compared with those who stopped or never initiated buprenorphine therapy.

How the Brain Makes Pain Unpleasant

 |  A specific collection of neurons in the basolateral amygdala, a brain region crucial for affect, was active when mice experienced pain. Deactivating this collection of neurons resulted in a loss of negative affective responses to painful stimuli, although the animals still perceived the pain.

Researchers Identify Rare Gene Variants Associated With Smoking and Alcohol Use

 |  International research teams analyzed several hundred thousand samples from 17 whole-exome sequencing studies to identify rare gene variants associated with smoking and alcohol use. They identified rare variants in 117 DNA regions as being associated with specific aspects of nicotine and alcohol use, including some in genes already known to influence these traits.

A New Era at NIDA Notes

 |  As we enter a new year, we would like to honor and thank NIDA Notes Editor David Anderson, who recently retired after 20 years at the helm of NIDA’s signature science publication.

The Strong African American Families Program Improves Lives of Rural African American Youth

 |  This video highlights the Strong African American Families Program, a prevention program targeted at 10- to 14-year-old rural African American youths and their families. Numerous studies have shown that the program can improve supportive parenting practices as well as reduce the adolescents’ high-risk behaviors, conduct problems, health risks, and risk of continued poverty.

Una alternativa prometedora a los analgésicos opioides

 |  Un compuesto novedoso representa un posible avance para lograr el objetivo de contar con analgésicos que no sean adictivos y que sean al menos tan eficaces como los opioides, pero sin sus desventajas características. El nuevo compuesto, denominado AT-121, también presenta la posibilidad de ser un tratamiento alternativo a la adicción a los opioides.

La intervención integrada beneficia a quienes se inyectan drogas y tienen VIH

 |  Las personas que se inyectan drogas y están infectadas con el VIH tienen alta mortalidad y enfrentan muchos obstáculos para acceder a la atención médica. A fin de reducir el impacto que estas dos afecciones tienen sobre la salud y la supervivencia de esta población, el Dr. William Miller, de Ohio State University, y sus colegas elaboraron una estrategia de intervención que integra varios componentes.

Transcription Factor E2F3a Mediates Cocaine’s Effects on Gene Expression and Addiction-Related Behaviors

 |  NIDA-supported researchers have shown that increased levels of a single protein in the brain's reward center are indispensable for producing some of cocaine's addiction-like effects in animals. Their findings highlight the involvement of a specific set of genes in the production of behavioral responses to cocaine and could point the way to medications to reduce the drug's hold on people.

How Cocaine Cues Get Planted in the Brain

 |  This research found that: An epigenetic mechanism underlies the powerful cocaine–environment associations that promote relapse. The mechanism may be instrumental in all drug reward–based learning. A NIDA-sponsored study sheds light...

Narrative of Discovery: The Quest for a Medication To Treat Methamphetamine Addiction, Part 3

 |  Dr. Linda Dwoskin feels just one small step away from success in her effort to develop the first-ever medication to treat methamphetamine addiction. She and colleagues at the Universities of Kentucky and Arkansas have created a molecule that blocks methamphetamine’s addictive effects and completed preclinical testing without raising any red flags for undesirable side effects.

Why Marijuana Displeases

 |  Through research on mice, a mechanism for how THC, the active ingredient in marijuana can produce rewarding, neutral or negative experiences was demonstrated.

Substance Use Disorders Are Associated With Major Medical Illnesses and Mortality Risk in a Large Integrated Health Care System

 |  Strong associations exist between substance use disorder diagnoses and 19 major medical illnesses among patients in a large, integrated health care system. The study indicates that these associations may persist even in health care systems that provide specialized treatment for substance use disorders and have capacity to integrate behavioral and medical care.

Deep Brain Stimulation Attenuates Rats’ Responses to Heroin

 |  High-frequency electrical stimulation of neurons deep in the brain can reduce rats’ relapse-like behavior and motivation to take heroin. The finding strengthens hope that deep brain stimulation might offer a new treatment alternative for opioid addiction, particularly for patients who have not benefited from other treatments.