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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Proposed National Institute On Addictions

In the 21st century our understanding of addiction is much greater than in years past; we understand with more detail what is happening in the brain when it comes to addiction. Technology has allowed us see what exactly happens inside the brain when someone consumes a substance like drugs or alcohol and we can see that whether one's choice of poison is booze or drugs makes very little difference as far as what is taking place on a chemical level. It was once thought that alcohol was different than other drugs like heroin or cocaine, but science has shown us that alcohol is a drug just like any other drug that someone might become addicted to, no matter what substance a person is hooked on makes very little difference - the common theme is addiction.

In late September, the NIH's Scientific Management Review Board (SMRB) voted 12-3 in favor of a recommendation from its Substance Use, Abuse and Addiction (SUAA) Workgroup to dissolve both NIAAA (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism) and NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) and create a single institute on addictions. There are many professionals in the field that believe that unifying the two Institutes could result in a lack of "focus and funding" for alcohol research. Members of NIDA's National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse voted unanimously in favor of the creation of an addictions institute; however, NIAAA's National Advisory Council on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism unanimously voted against the merge. The professional organization that represents alcohol researchers, the Research Society on Alcoholism (RSA), is against dissolving NIDA and NIAAA, "as a matter of public health policy and on scientific grounds", according to a Sept. 22 statement.

"An addictions institute, by its very nature (exclusive focus on addictions), would not serve as an encouraging environment for research on the vast array of significant public-health problems that are not, and will never evolve into, addictions," according to RSA. "These public-health concerns include teenage drinking, drunk driving, and the many health effects of moderate alcohol use that impact the majority of those who consume alcoholic beverages, but are not addicted. Further, public-policy issues such as taxation, distribution and legal use of alcohol as a commodity will not be considered."

"Many individuals with addiction use alcohol and tobacco and drugs at the same time. A broad addiction institute may be better able to design and sponsor clinical, basic and health services research that matches this real-world reality instead of focusing on just one substance at a time", said David Rosenbloom, Ph.D., director of Join Together. The longer we keep addiction broken up into little pieces based off of the substance consumed there is going to be separation within the addiction field, working together to understand all forms of addiction and how they relate to one another could be implemented better under one roof.

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