|NIDA Offers Psychiatrists a Look at State-of-the-Science
on Addiction and Mental Illnesses
Addiction is Key Topic at American Psychiatric
Association Annual Meeting
The Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part
of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), today challenged psychiatrists
to learn more about the importance of substance abuse as a factor
in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses. At the American
Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting, Dr. Nora Volkow spoke at
a special three-day NIDA-sponsored research program track, “The
Science of Addiction: Translating New Insights Into Better Psychiatric
Practice.” Today’s program included a look at the interplay
between genes and the environment; and closed with a discussion
of the the challenges of addiction and co-occuring mental illnesses.
Dr. Volkow, an internationally known research psychiatrist, led
a session entitled Substance Abuse in Your Patients: Beyond
What is Taught in Your Residency. She urged psychiatrists
to learn more about the link between substance abuse and mental
illness. “Research has shown us that addiction is a disease that
can be successfully treated, but not if the problems go undiagnosed,” said
Dr. Volkow. “By looking at what we now know about the neurobiological
underpinnings of addiction, we are developing new, more effective
Participants also heard from Alan I. Leshner, Ph.D., CEO, American
Association for the Advancement of Science and former NIDA Director
who gave a lecture on "The Evolving Climate for Neuroscience and
Another focus at today’s NIDA program track was a look at the
parallels between obesity and addiction, two compulsive behaviors
that science is showing have several unexpected commonalities.
Another afternoon session explored the question about addiction
and co-occuring mental illnesses. Participants learned about the
critical time periods in the life course when the connection between
mood and anxiety disorders are most strongly linked to drug problems,
as well as the importance of early intervention.
“As many as 6 in 10 people who have an illicit drug use disorder
also suffer from mental illnesses,” said Dr. Volkow. “Diagnosis
of a mental disorder must be recognized as a sign of increased
risk for subsequent substance abuse. Similarly, diagnosis of a
substance use disorder must be recognized as a sign of increased
risk for mental disorder, even if no mental disorder is evident
at the time of diagnosis.”
On Tuesday, Dr. Volkow will speak about The Neurobiology of
Free Will Gone Awry, an in-depth look at the science of
addiction and its implications for prevention and treatment.
Also on Tuesday, participants will learn more about treatments
for methamphetamine addiction.
On Wednesday, the NIDA program track will focus on neuroimaging
research and its implications for the treatment of substance abuse,
promising medications for the treatment of cocaine addiction, the
importance of treating drug abusing offenders in the criminal justice
system, the develpment of the adolescent brain and implications
of drug use; and how prenatal nicotine exposure can lead to developmental
The full agenda for the NIDA program track can be found on the
NIDA Web site at www.drugabuse.gov.
The NIDA booth at APA will feature the Institute’s new publication, “The
Science of Addiction.” This booklet covers 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 treated. A PDF
copy of “The Science of Addiction” can be downloaded at the NIDA
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 further information
on NIDA research can be found on the NIDA web site at http://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.