Additional sources of resources to increase and support integrative and collaborative efforts in addiction research should be considered by Congress. For example, the percentage of the budget of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy earmarked for research should be increased substantially as part of a coordinated strategy to make drug abuse and addiction research a national priority.
Although there have been many scientific advances in our knowledge about drug addiction, the public's perceptions and understanding lag far behind. If the goal is to increase interest in and support for careers in addiction research, it is essential to communicate the current scientific knowledge base in an effective way to the public at large. Educating the public begins in schools and is carried further through the media and other mechanisms.
To help inform the public and build advocacy for destigmatizing addiction research, the committee recommends that:
Public education campaigns should be based on an interdisciplinary view of addiction and emphasize treatment effectiveness, as well as include descriptions of the role of brain physiology and function (e.g., pain systems, anxiety circuits, mood systems, and behavioral and psychosocial aspects).
Consumer and other advocacy groups should be encouraged to strengthen their focus on the need for research on the causes, prevention, and treatment of addictive disorders.
Liaison relationships and joint activities should be explored among advocacy groups to increase public understanding of addictive disorders. Activities could include meetings of representatives of provider groups, state and local health departments, and established grassroots advocacy groups to develop cohesive, workable strategies to accomplish change.
All of these efforts will contribute to the long-term goals and strategies that the committee deems essential to resolve the broad problems found in this scientific area.