NIH Press Release
NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH
National Institute on Drug Abuse

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, Oct. 18, 1996

Mona W. Brown
Sheryl Massaro
(301) 443-6245

NIDA Town Meetings in St. Louis Area Present Latest Scientific Findings
About Drug Abuse and Addiction

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) will hold two Town Meetings in the St. Louis area on October 28 and 29 to present the latest scientific information available to prevent and treat drug abuse and addiction.

With reports of teen drug use in Missouri on the rise, Dr. Alan I. Leshner, Director of NIDA, will convene "Drug Abuse and Our Youth: Myths vs. Reality," a community meeting to be held October 28, 1996, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., at Kirkwood High School, 801 West Essex Avenue in Kirkwood, Missouri. Dr. Leshner will discuss with parents, teachers, concerned citizens and civic leaders what science has taught us about drug abuse and addiction and ways to reduce their impact among today's youth. He also will learn from them what kinds of scientific information they believe are needed to better deal with these problems.

On October 29, Dr. Leshner will host a community town meeting to focus on how state policy makers, private sector organizations, schools, and community and religious organizations can utilize the latest scientific research to assess Missouri's drug problems and develop programs tailored to meet state and local needs.

In discussing the need for the town meetings, Dr. Leshner explained, "We know from research that drug abuse is a preventable behavior and drug addiction is a treatable illness or disease. One of NIDA's most important goals is to expand our efforts to translate research findings, especially those about the actions and effects of drugs on the brain, to help the public better understand the nature of addiction and the most effective strategies for its prevention and treatment."

Cosponsored, with the Missouri State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Agency and Washington University School of Medicine, "Understanding Drug Abuse and Addiction: Myths vs. Reality," will be held at the Regal Riverfront Hotel, 200 So. 4th Street in St. Louis, Missouri. The morning session, beginning at 9:00 a.m., will feature presentations and question and answer periods led by Dr. Leshner and researchers from St. Louis spotlighting local research efforts. The afternoon will feature an interactive discussion with the Missouri drug abuse prevention and treatment community on how current knowledge can influence decision making in St. Louis.

Among the Missouri participants will be: Michael Couty, Director of the Missouri Department of Mental Health Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse; Paul Hanna, Executive Director of the Missouri Association of Community Task Forces; Linda Riekes, Coordinator of the Missouri Area Drug Free Schools programs; Edward F. Tasch, Executive Director of the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse; and Danny Wedding, Ph.D., Director of the Missouri Institute of Mental Health.

Washington University participants include: Linda Cottler, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Epidemiology in Psychiatry; Theodore Cicero, Ph.D., Vice Chancellor of Research in the Department of Psychiatry of the School of Medicine; Samuel Guze, M.D., head of the Department of Psychiatry; and Carl Fichtenbaum, M.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine in the School of Medicine Division of Internal Medicine.

The latest local data compiled through NIDA's Community Epidemiology Work Group (CEWG) investigator, Heidi Israel, St. Louis University School of Medicine, show that the use and trafficking of methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana and heroin is up in the state of Missouri. Heroin-related emergency room visits in St. Louis (and Metro East) were up 111 percent. Cocaine-related emergencies were up 19 percent and marijuana-related emergencies increased 316 percent. The number of methamphetamine cases in the state of Missouri handled by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration rose from six in 1994 to 30 in 1996.

"We know now from research more than we have ever known about drug abuse addiction and how to get a handle on the problem. We want to bring this information to the people in St. Louis who can use it to make a difference in their communities. We also want to hear comments and suggestions from the community about how NIDA's research can address their needs for information," Dr. Leshner said.

NIDA, an Institute of the National Institutes of Health, supports over 85% of the world's research on the health aspects of drug abuse and addiction. The Institute also carries out a large variety of programs to ensure the rapid dissemination of research information and its implementation in policy and practice. Further information on NIDA research can be found on the NIDA Home Page at http://www.nida.nih.gov.

Dr. Leshner will be available for interviews prior to and during the conference. For interviews and coverage information, call the NIDA Press Office at (301) 443-6245.