On Monday, Nov. 8, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) kicks off National Drug Facts Week (NDFW) “to shatter the myths and spread the facts about drug abuse and addiction.” Targeting teens, the Week includes local events, Web-based activities, and contests.
There are some pretty powerful facts and statistics posted on the NDFW website, and I’d like to add to them by referencing some Dana content, highlighting both the risks of drug abuse and the progress made to treat addiction.
- Young people are far more likely to use and to become dependent on alcohol and tobacco than the more illicit drugs (though purchasing all of these is illegal for teenagers). (The Dana Guide to Brain Health)
- Ultimately, especially for people who have an extra vulnerability due to genetic or social factors, drug-taking ascends through the ranks of behaviors until it becomes more important, in the faltering brain’s calculus, than some of our most basic, healthy, sociable activities. (“This is Your Brain on Drugs 2008”)
- The brain’s recovery from chemical addiction can take years, and some brain systems may never recover. (“This is Your Brain on Drugs 2008”)
- According to Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives member Alan Leshner, the former head of NIDA, “addicts put in jail without treatment have a 70 percent chance of being arrested within three years and a 30 percent chance of staying arrest-free—but if you treat them, you can flip those numbers.” (“This is Your Brain on Drugs 2008”)
- For many people, the chances of long-term success go up with repeated efforts to end dependence. After several years of continuous abstinence from a drug, the likelihood of relapse becomes relatively low. (The Dana Guide to Brain Health)
To learn about how addiction research has advanced over the last decade, read February’s Cerebrum article, “Challenges and Opportunities in Drug Addiction Research,” by Dana Alliance member, Nora D. Volkow, the current director of NIDA.
For additional information about recent progress made in addiction research, you may also wish to read “Perspectives on Substance Abuse Research” and “Substance Abuse: Mapping the Pathway of Addiction” from The 2009 Progress Report on Brain Research.
--Ann L. Whitman