NIDA Head Tackles Addiction
> 12/18/2006 1:37:29 PM

For their final issue of the year, entitled "Who's Next?," Newsweek profiled a number of personalities to watch in 2007. Individuals were selected from various fields. For the representative from the magazine's Health section editors singled out Dr. Nora Volkow, who is the current Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Having arrived in the position in May 2003, Volkow has been at the forefront of addiction research and advocacy for much of her career. Working at Brookhaven National Laboratory, Volkow was one of the pioneers in addiction research who used imaging technologies to explore how addiction processes effected the brain.

The magazine's choice of Volkow, and the discussion of addiction research that they cite in their write up, was a pleasant surprise for the mental health field and those who work toward treating addiction in particular. Volkow's own research illustrates how virtually anyone, anywhere can be affected by addiction. Be it drugs, alcohol, gambling or one of many other potential addictions, Volkow describes the problem as the result of a confluence of factors that produces a reliance on a behavior or substance to activate pleasure mechanisms in the brain. As Newsweek describes, this process is believed to be heavily tied into the dopamenergic centers, which we are now truly beginning to understand. Volkow has been an important player in that movement, and in her current position at NIDA, she has the chance to shape the nation's approach to addiction.

By naming Dr. Volkow one of their "Who's Next" personalities for 2007, Newsweek has helped increase her public visibility, something that can only help change public perceptions about addiction and addiction treatment. Volkow has also displayed the ability and desire to think creatively about problems, and come up with viable working solutions as she demonstrated this year when NIDA released its report regarding drug treatment following incarceration. We're certainly hoping that Dr. Volkow proves to be a worthy representative for addiction and mental health services in 2007.

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