Latest Articles

Comorbidity: Substance Use Disorders and Other Mental Illnesses

Substance use disorders change the brain in fundamental ways, changing a person’s normal needs and desires and replacing them with new priorities connected with seeking and using the substance. This results in compulsive behaviors that weaken the ability to control impulses, despite the negative consequences, and are similar to hallmarks of other mental illnesses. […]

Read More… from Comorbidity: Substance Use Disorders and Other Mental Illnesses

Learn More

Why Do Some People Become Addicted to Substances, While Others Do Not?

As with other diseases and disorders, the likelihood of developing a Substance Use Disorder differs from person to person, and no single factor determines whether a person will become addicted to substances. In general, the more risk factors a person has, the greater the chance that taking substances will lead to continued substance use and addiction. Protective factors, on the other hand, reduce a person’s risk. Risk and protective factors may be either environmental or biological. […]

Read More… from Why Do Some People Become Addicted to Substances, While Others Do Not?

Learn More

How Do Substances Work in the Brain to Produce Pleasure?

Nearly all substances directly or indirectly target the brain’s reward system by flooding the circuit with dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter present in regions of the brain that regulate movement, emotion, cognition, motivation, and reinforcement of rewarding behaviors. When activated at normal levels, this system rewards our natural behaviors. Overstimulating the system with substance, however, produces effects which strongly reinforce the behavior of substance use, teaching the person to repeat it. […]

Read More… from How Do Substances Work in the Brain to Produce Pleasure?

Learn More

National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS)

The National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS) was first funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) in 2014 as an expansion of its longstanding Community Epidemiology Workgroup (CEWG). Ongoing data collection will provide an integrated and comprehensive characterization of drug use and availability by synthesizing traditional, indirect sources with new, direct sources of data, as well as on-the-ground epidemiologic investigations within high-priority areas of concern. […]

Read More… from National Drug Early Warning System (NDEWS)

Learn More

Alcohol

People may drink to socialize, celebrate, or relax. Alcohol often has a strong effect on people—and throughout history, people have struggled to understand and manage alcohol’s power. Why does alcohol cause people to act and feel differently? How much is too much? […]

Read More… from Alcohol

Learn More

Understanding the Basics of Substance Use Disorders

Substance Use Disorder is not a choice. Nobody is born with the idea that they want to choose to become addicted and lose control over their desire, intense desire to take substances. It’s something that you may have the vulnerability because actually, you have a genetic risk, family history, or because you have a very stressful environmental upbringing. The choice starts, and again it’s relative when you are exposed for the first time to the substance. And then some people become addicted and others do not. And that’s where a lot of the research is going. To try to understand what are the differences in that transition. […]

Read More… from Understanding the Basics of Substance Use Disorders

Learn More

Understanding Relapse

A person who’s trying to stop using substances can make mistakes, feel bad, and start using again. This return to substance use is called a relapse. Relapse is common and normal and happens to a lot of people recovering from substance use disorders. People will often have one or more relapses along the way. It takes practice to learn how to live without using substances. […]

Read More… from Understanding Relapse

Learn More

Substance Use in Youth: What Are Risk Factors and Protective Factors?

Risk and protective factors can affect children at different stages of their lives. At each stage, risks occur that can be changed through prevention intervention. Early childhood risks, such as aggressive behavior, can be changed or prevented with family, school, and community interventions that focus on helping children develop appropriate, positive behaviors. If not addressed, negative behaviors can lead to more risks, such as academic failure and social difficulties, which put children at further risk for later substance use. […]

Read More… from Substance Use in Youth: What Are Risk Factors and Protective Factors?

Learn More

How Science Has Revolutionized the Understanding of Substance Use

Today, thanks to science, our views and our responses to addiction and the broader spectrum of substance use disorders have changed dramatically. Groundbreaking discoveries about the brain have revolutionized our understanding of compulsive substance use, enabling us to respond effectively to the problem. […]

Read More… from How Science Has Revolutionized the Understanding of Substance Use

Learn More

If I Seek Treatment, I’m Worried Other People Will Find Out

You can tell your employer or friends you need to go on medical leave. If you talk to your doctor or another medical expert, privacy laws prevent them from sharing your medical information with anyone outside of the healthcare system without your permission. In addition, most health care providers who specialize in addiction treatment can’t share your information with anyone (even other providers) without your written permission. […]

Read More… from If I Seek Treatment, I’m Worried Other People Will Find Out

Learn More

If My Teen or Young Adult Confides in Their Doctor, Will I be Able to Find Out What’s Going on?

If your child talks to a doctor or other medical expert, privacy laws might prevent that expert from sharing the information with you. However, you can speak to the doctor before your child’s appointment and express your concerns, so the doctor knows the importance of a substance use screening in your child’s situation. In addition, most health care providers that specialize in substance treatment can’t share your information with anyone (even other providers) without your written permission. […]

Read More… from If My Teen or Young Adult Confides in Their Doctor, Will I be Able to Find Out What’s Going on?

Learn More