NIDA has had a terrible track record when it comes to scientific inquiry, tending to cherry-pick the research it highlights to match its political anti-drug focus.
This is still true, and their social media pages are chock-full of fear-mongering nonsense. But once in a while, a tiny bit of truth trickles through.
Here’s one example: Childhood Maltreatment Changes Cortical Network Architecture and May Raise Risk for Substance Use — the article is from November, but was just recently highlighted on their Facebook page.
Childhood maltreatment alters children’s brain development in ways that may increase their risk for substance use and other mental disorders in adulthood. In a NIDA-supported study, researchers found that young adults who had been maltreated as children differed from others who had not been maltreated in the connectivity of nine cortical regions. The differences could compromise the maltreated group’s basic social perceptual skills, ability to maintain a healthy balance between introversion and extroversion, and ability to self-regulate their emotions and behavior.
Those of us who care about the science of drug policy already knew this, from the outstanding work of Dr. Gabor Maté (his work was also highlighted in Johann Hari’s “Chasing the Scream”).
And, of course, this flies in the face of NIDA’s usual talking points – that it’s drugs that cause addiction. The notion that there are some people who are more likely to abuse drugs because of outside influences suggests that there are other people (like the majority) who are not likely to abuse drugs, and this, leads to the notion (gasp!) that maybe drug problems should be attacked some other way than by attacking drugs.
So for them to highlight this research is really startling (although you couldn’t tell it from reading their article as they show no indication of awareness that it undermines much of their efforts).
NIDA still is up to its old tricks in one way, however. Note their usual mangling of the English language by including the word “use” in the title and in the body of the article, when, from the context, it clearly should be “abuse.”