Why Do You Study Addiction Science?

Scientists from the National Institute on Drug Abuse answer common questions teens ask about drug use and addiction. The episode Why Do You Study Addiction Science? introduces viewers to NIDA scientists as they share personal stories in the field of addiction science.

Video Length: 3:11


[Female voice over] Why Do You Study Addiction Science?

[Fernanda speaking]

One thing that my mom always told me from a young age, that if you have family members that are addicted to drugs or have alcoholism, or those kind of behaviors or addictions, it’s most likely that I can have that too. Now that I’m more into the science behind it, and my lab particular studies mostly cocaine, there’s just so many things that happen to our brain. We know that something is happening to our brain that makes it addictive, but I didn’t really know exactly what.

[Renata speaking]

Science is something that really comes from when you're having a passion to understand how things work. For me, it was trying to understand how our brain is wired and how it works.   In pharmacy school I just got fascinated about how drugs can change your mind, how drugs can change your behavior. And not only illicit drugs, even like anti-depressants, how they help you recover from depression, what's happening in your brain that's making them work so.

PULLOUT: Neuropharmacology is the study of how drugs affect the nervous system.

[Daria speaking]

I started studying the effects of drugs on behaviour in brain chemistry very young when I was in med school. And the way I felt is that there were so many people studying other mental health disorders such as depression, that in order to contribute maybe to science making my small contribution, substance use disorder and alcohol use disorder would be a field where one could really try to make a difference.

PULLOUT: Scientists began to study addiction-related behavior in the 1930s.


I was ultimately drawn from a personal experience, so, I had a family friend pass away from a heroin overdose when he was 17 years old. And I felt as though, I really didn’t understand, I was 14 years old at the time, and my family just didn’t speak of it so we had the funeral and then no one said anything. So, I just felt like I had all these questions that I didn’t feel comfortable asking because no one ever wanted to talk about it. When I found that there is a place called the National Institute on Drug Abuse, I was so, so excited because I saw that are people like me that are very much committed and passionate about this science and they want to help people across the world.

PULLOUT: The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is a federal scientific research institute.

PULLOUT: NIDA is the largest supporter of the world's research on drug use and addiction.

[Renata speaking]

So, working in science is a very exciting job because you are driven to answering a question. You have this question that you want to know what's happening and how and why it happens.

And the thing that drives us most is because we can help change people's lives, we can help make things better. 

PULLOUT: Check out www.drugabuse.gov and search “addiction science” for programs in your area.

[Female voice over] For more information check out teens dot drug abuse dot gov.