|NIH Partners with HBO on Groundbreaking Documentary
90-minute program set to air on Thursday,
March 15 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute
on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), components of the National
Institutes of Health, have collaborated with HBO to create an eye-opening
documentary, ADDICTION, to air on Thursday, March 15 (9:00-10:30
p.m. ET/PT). The documentary, developed with funding support from
the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, seeks to help Americans understand
addiction as a chronic yet treatable brain disease, and spotlights
promising scientific advancements.
With nearly one in ten Americans over the age of 12 classified
with substance abuse or dependence, addiction takes an emotional,
psychological, and social toll on the country. The economic costs
of substance abuse and addiction alone are estimated to exceed
a half trillion dollars annually in the United States due to health
care expenditures, lost productivity, and crime.
“The National Institutes of Health is proud to be part of this
effort to educate Americans about the nature of addiction and its
devastating consequences,” said NIH Director Dr. Elias A. Zerhouni. “We
especially appreciate the opportunity to inform the public about
the scientific research that is transforming our understanding
and treatment of addictive disorders.”
Addiction is now understood to be a brain disease because scientific
research has shown that alcohol and other drugs can change brain
structure and function. Advances in brain imaging science make
it possible to see inside the brain of an addicted person and pinpoint
the parts of the brain affected by drugs of abuse — providing
knowledge that will enable the development of new approaches to
prevention and treatment.
“Addiction is a disease — a treatable disease — and
it needs to be understood,” said Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the
National Institute on Drug Abuse, whose work is featured in the
documentary. “Our goal is for HBO’s ADDICTION project to educate
the public about this disease and thereby help to eliminate the
stigma associated with it.”
Currently, addiction affects 23.2 million Americans — of
whom only about 10 percent are receiving the treatment they need. “HBO’s
Addiction Project offers us the opportunity to directly acquaint
viewers with available evidence-based medical and behavioral treatments,” said
NIAAA Director Dr. Ting-Kai Li. “This is especially important for
disorders that for many years were treated outside the medical
Consisting of nine segments, the film presents an encouraging
look at addiction as a treatable brain disease and the major scientific
advances that have helped us better understand and treat it. From
emergency rooms to living rooms to research laboratories, the documentary
follows the trail of an illness that affects one in four families
in the United States.
One segment, “The Adolescent Addict,” explains that the adolescent
brain differs from the adult brain because it is not yet fully
developed. According to NIDA’s Dr. Nora Volkow, adolescent brains
may be more susceptible to drug abuse and addiction than adult
brains. However, because it is still developing, the adolescent
brain may also offer an opportunity for greater resilience. Although
treatment can yield positive results, many families are unwilling
to look outside the home for help due to concerns about stigma.
Medications for use in treating alcoholism also are a focus of
the program, including a segment on topiramate, under study by
NIH-supported researchers at a clinic in Charlottesville, Virginia.
At present, there are three FDA-approved medications available
to treat alcohol dependence: the older aversive agent disulfiram,
and two newer anti-relapse medications. Naltrexone, available by
tablet or monthly injections, interferes with drinking reward and
reinforcement, and acamprosate works on multiple brain systems
to reduce craving, especially in early sobriety. According to NIAAA’s
Dr. Mark Willenbring, who is featured in the film, these medications
are not addictive and can be helpful adjuncts to treatment.
NIDA and NIAAA have released these new publications to coincide
with the launch of ADDICTION.
Drugs Brains and Behavior, the Science of Addiction http://www.nida.nih.gov/scienceofaddiction/
Helping Patients Who Drink Too Much: A Clinician’s Guide http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/guide.
Downloadable patient education handouts include Strategies
for Cutting Down, U.S. Adult Drinking Patterns, and What’s
a Standard Drink?
ADDICTION is directed by an HBO-assembled team of filmmakers including
Jon Alpert, Susan Froemke, Eugene Jarecki, Liz Garbus, Barbara
Kopple, Albert Maysles and D.A. Pennebaker among others. The documentary
is part of a broader HBO Addiction Project that includes a supplementary
series of 13 additional short films featuring extended expert interviews
and focusing on such subjects as family treatment and drug courts.
All films will be offered March 15-18 at no charge by participating
cable systems and available on numerous digital platforms including
multiplex channels, podcasts, and web streams at www.HBO.com.
The Project is being promoted by HBO and the Robert Wood Johnson
Foundation in collaboration with national groups committed to addiction
and recovery support, including Community Anti-Drug Coalitions
of America, Faces and Voices of Recovery, and Join Together. More
information can be found at http://www.addictionaction.org/.
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 Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism is the
primary U.S. agency for conducting and supporting research on the
causes, consequences, prevention, and treatment of alcohol abuse,
alcoholism, and alcohol problems and disseminates research findings
to general, professional, and academic audiences. Additional alcohol
research information and publications are available at http://www.niaaa.nih.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.