Published: Wednesday, December 8, 2010
It was recently announced by the director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that a new institute will be created that will study “substance use, abuse, and addiction research and related public health initiatives.” This institute will replace the existing National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), and other institutes dealing with addiction. As the NIH director states, creating the new, unified institute “makes scientific sense and would enhance NIH's efforts to address the substance abuse and addiction problems that take such a terrible toll on our society.” In other words, the brain processes involved with addiction are universal across substances, so we shouldn’t be studying them in a piecemeal fashion based on their legal status. Makes sense right? Perhaps it’s time our lawmakers follow suit and pass laws which treat addiction as the public health issue it is, instead of the current criminal/non-criminal system we now employ.