NIDA for Teens: The Science Behind Drug Abuse
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“Blending” Research and Real Life

Sara Bellum
April 21, 2010

In April NIDA is having its “Blending” conference. No, this is not a conference about smoothies…So what does “Blending” mean to NIDA?

Let’s start back a little ways.  First of all, doctors and treatment providers (the people who provide treatment to help addicted patients recover) don’t learn everything they need to know in medical school or college about taking care of patients.  Scientists are constantly testing new ideas for improving treatments—but once they find treatments that work, how do they get them to the doctors and others who are actually treating patients?

Maybe in an ideal world, every doctor, social worker, or psychologist could read every good research finding in a medical or scientific journal and automatically know how to make it work for their patients. But real life isn’t that easy. A decade ago, it took more than 17 years to turn scientific research results into actual treatments used for real people!  At the National Institutes of Health, scientists are working to change that, including NIDA scientists.

The NIDA “Blending” thing is part of this. We bring scientists together with the people who are actually treating patients with drug problems and “blend” their knowledge and expertise, testing treatments with actual patients and adjusting them to work better. The treatments that work the best are shared with others around the country, who are trained to use them.  This “Blending” helps speed up the process of getting treatments that work to the patients who need them.

Here are a couple examples of new treatment ideas that providers will learn about at this year’s Blending conference in Albuquerque:

  • New Treatments for teens and young adults who are addicted to opioids (drugs like Vicodin, Oxycontin or even heroin). There is a medication called Buprenorphine that has been successful with adults and now research is showing it may work for teens.
  • Treatment Vaccines. We usually think of vaccines as something we take to avoid disease, but vaccines are being developed that can help people quit smoking and quit doing illegal drugs like cocaine (stay tuned for more on vaccines.)

So if you are reading this, you now know as much about “Blending” as many of the people who will attend the conference. Congratulations!  And keep reading this blog to learn what we are learning about better ways to help people who struggle with addiction.

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