Tag Archives: research

Coming Soon: Money For Three Addiction Research Centers

The National Institute of Health yesterday announced what sounds like a major new push to attack the opiate epidemic at the community level.

A big part of what it’s calling its HEALing Communities initiative will be to try to integrate prevention and treatment efforts for addicts while strengthening communities.

There’s more than that, though.

Two years ago, I wrote about the potential for economic development to the Ohio River Valley¬†region that I thought could come from the region positioning itself as a center for addiction research. Northern Kentucky University, and their provost, Sue Ott Rowlands, picked up on that idea, I’m honored to say, and the Ohio River Valley Research Consortium was formed.

It now appears that within the NIH push is what is described to me as “a lot” of money (though how much is as yet unknown) to establish three research centers around the country. Here are the guidelines for applying for that money.

Sounds like it might be a good moment for folks in the tri-state Ohio River Valley, so badly hit by the epidemic and deindustrialization, to marshal some forces and look to the future of what such a center can mean for research, dollars, and attracting PhDs to the area — and what all that might mean, in turn, for regional economic development.

They might also consider, as I wrote two years ago, what such a center could mean for all those recovering addicts now studying to be drug counselors and social workers, who might be hired to help in the studies such a center would fund.

After so many years of negative behavior, many I’ve met are now eager to be part of something positive and something bigger than themselves. Harnessing them could mean a massive infusion of new energy to a region that’s lost a lot of it.

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Filed under Drugs, The Heroin Heartland

Candace Pert dies; discovered opiate receptor



I did not know about Candace Pert until I read that she had died in this great obituary by Tom Maugh in the LA Times.

Pert explained why humans get addicted to opiates.

She discovered the receptor in the human body to which opiates attach, fitting like a hand in a glove and allowing both for the calming of pain and the addiction to the substance produced by the opium poppy.

Her research and discoveries have never been more timely than they are today, amid a nationwide opiate epidemic.

Great quote from the story: “God presumably did not put an opiate receptor in our brains so that we could ultimately discover how to get high with opium,” Pert told Smithsonian magazine.

Still it was others who discovered the reason for the receptors: substances produced naturally by the human body — endorphins — that reduce pain and produce euphoria when they attach to the receptors.

Utterly fascinating, I think, that one plant, alone in all that we know of nature, produces a molecule that fits so perfectly onto this receptor in humans.

For this reason, one unseen particle, the morphine molecule, produces both heaven and hell — the most merciful pain relief and most harrowing enslavement — in the planet’s dominant mammal.

We are seeing the effects of this all across the United States, from rural America to the wealthiest suburbs.

It appears from Maugh’s obituary that Pert was largely blunted in her research by male researchers above her, then had most of the recognition usurped by those same men.

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Filed under Culture, Drugs