|NIDA Unveils its First Consumer Publication
to Explain the Science of Addiction
Booklet’s Release Timed to Complement Collaborative
Documentary on Addiction to Air on HBO.
“Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction” was unveiled
today by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a component
of the National Institutes of Health. The 30-page full-color booklet
explains in layman’s terms how science has revolutionized the understanding
of drug addiction as a brain disease that affects behavior. NIDA
hopes this new publication will help reduce stigma against addictive
“Thanks to science, our views and our responses to drug abuse
have changed dramatically, but many people today still do not understand
why people become addicted to drugs or how drugs change the brain
to foster compulsive drug abuse,” said NIDA Director Dr. Nora D.
Volkow. “This booklet aims to fill that knowledge gap by providing
scientific information about the disease of drug addiction in language
that is easily understandable to the public.”
The “Science of Addiction” booklet discusses the reasons people
take drugs, why some people become addicted while others do not,
how drugs work in the brain, and how addiction can be prevented
and treated. Like diabetes, asthma or heart disease, drug addiction
is a chronic disease that can be managed successfully. Treatment
helps to counteract addiction’s powerful disruptive effects and
helps people regain control of their lives. The new booklet points
out that just as with other chronic diseases, relapses can happen.
The publication further explains that relapse is not a signal of
treatment failure — rather, it indicates that treatment should
be reinstated or adjusted to help the addict fully recover.
The new publication was unveiled today at a press briefing for
the upcoming HBO documentary called Addiction, to air
Thursday, March 15 from 9:00 to 10:30 p.m. ET/PT. The 90-minute
program, produced in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation,
the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and the National Institute
on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), is aimed at helping Americans
understand addiction as a treatable brain disease, as well as spotlighting
new medical advancements.
The documentary will explore many elements of drug and alcohol
addiction, through the eyes of those who are addicted and those
of the scientific experts working to better understand and treat
this devastating disease.
Abuse and addiction to alcohol, nicotine and illegal substances
cost Americans upwards of half a trillion dollars a year, considering
their combined medical, economic, criminal, and social impact.
In addition, every year, abuse of illicit drugs and alcohol contributes
to the deaths of more than 100,000 Americans, while tobacco is
linked to an estimated 440,000 deaths per year in the United States.
People of all ages suffer the harmful consequences of drug abuse
Drug addiction is considered a brain disease because drugs change
the brain in structure and in function. For most people, the initial
decision to take drugs is voluntary, but over time drug abuse can
cause changes to the brain that impair a person’s self-control
and ability to make sound decisions, while sending intense impulses
to take drugs.
A PDF copy of “The Science of Addiction” can be downloaded at
the NIDA website: http://www.drugabuse.gov
The National Institute on Drug Abuse is a component of the National
Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
NIDA supports most of the world’s research on the health aspects
of drug abuse and addiction. The Institute carries out a large
variety of programs to ensure the rapid dissemination of research
information and its implementation in policy and practice. Fact
sheets on the health effects of drugs of abuse and information
on NIDA research and other activities can be found on the NIDA
home page at www.drugabuse.gov.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's
Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and
Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting
and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research,
and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both
common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and
its programs, visit www.nih.gov.