Bulletin Board

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). For current information, please visit nida.nih.gov.


Understanding Addiction as a Brain Disease

brain drawing

Scientific research over the past 20 years has dramatically enhanced our knowledge of drug abuse and addiction. We now understand that addiction is a disease of the brain that also is closely tied to behavior and cues one receives from the social environment, writes NIDA Director Dr. Alan I. Leshner in an article in the October 3 issue of Science. Treating addiction then means treating the brain disease as well as addressing its behavioral and social aspects, which is the way one treats other brain diseases, such as stroke, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer's disease, Dr. Leshner explains in "Addiction Is a Brain Disease, and It Matters." This article appears with five other science and policy papers in the issue's special section on "The Neuroscience of Drug Abuse." Section topics include insights on drug-exposed fetal brain development, science-based treatment advances, and differences in international drug policies. Science is the weekly magazine of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

New Branch Chief In NIDA's Medications Development Division (MDD)

Dr. David J. McCannDr. David J. McCann

Dr. David J. McCann has been named chief of NIDA's Pharmacology and Toxicology Branch, which oversees preclinical medications research and development. Part of the Medications Development Division (MDD), the Branch focuses on discovering and developing medications to treat cocaine dependence and on finding medications that will improve the treatment of heroin dependence.

Dr. McCann, a pharmacologist, joined NIDA in 1988 as a staff fellow in its Division of Intramural Research at the Addiction Research Center in Baltimore. While at the ARC, he conducted research on sigma receptors, molecules that interact with PCP (phencyclidine), cocaine, and other drugs. In recognition of his research, Dr. McCann received the NIDA Staff Fellow Award for the most outstanding publication of 1991.

Since 1992, Dr. McCann has overseen a number of medications development projects for MDD. He also led a team of MDD scientists who developed the Division's Opioid Treatment Discovery Program, which is responsible for discovering improved medications for treating opiate dependence.