Nida Director Reports On New Substance Use Disorders Research At Apa

On Monday May 20, Nora Volkow, M.D., director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), reported on new research findings and treatment opportunities at an hour-long lecture for the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting. Because of the high rate of co-occurring addictive disorders among individuals with a gambling disorder, it is important to keep abreast of new developments in the field of substance use disorders.

Here are some highlights from Dr. Volkow’s presentation:

  • Historically, the research finding that the prefrontal cortex is implicated in addiction was very controversial at first. The prefrontal cortex is the region of the brain involved in functions such as executive function and decision-making.
  • The addicted brain shows disruptions in the prefrontal cortex resulting in an individual’s ability to ‘not have brakes’ in terms of dealing or stopping excessive substance use.
  • Psychotherapy can modify the prefrontal cortex by focusing on the development of greater self control.
  • Research has shown that dysfunction in the brain’s dopamine D2 receptors increase an individual’s risk for addiction. Animal studies also have demonstrated that gene therapy can correct that dysfunction.
  • Research on vaccines for substance use disorders seeks to enable the body to create antibodies that prevents the impact of the substance on the brain.

For more information about research on substance use disorders,

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