Celeste Napier, PhD, a renowned researcher, professor of pharmacology and psychiatry, and director of the Rush Center for Compulsive Behavior and Addiction, was invited to provide testimony on methamphetamine Sept. 18 to the Committee on Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Research and Technology of the U.S. House of Representatives. The goal of the House meeting is to find out how science can explore possible solutions for meth addiction and inform public policy.
Methamphetamine is a highly addictive drug that deteriorates a person’s mind and body. Through research, the effects on the brain can be understood so that therapies and treatments can be developed to help people who suffer from addiction.
In the subcommittee meeting titled “Meth Addiction: Using Science to Explore Solutions,” Napier explained to the committee what brain research has shown about meth abuse and what is needed to enable neuroscientists to fill in the gaps in our knowledge of meth abuse. She also provided examples of prevention programs and the role that educational institutions play in prevention.
“Neuroscience research that helps us understand how methamphetamine effects brain functions is needed in order to develop therapies and treatments for meth,” said Napier. “For example, research has informed us that adolescents are more susceptible to methamphetamine because their brains are not yet fully developed and are particularly vulnerable to its ravages. In response, prevention education programs that integrate neuroscience with health and social science have been developed for junior high and high schools.”
The work being done in academic medical research centers, such as Rush, is critical to addressing the nation’s struggle with methamphetamine addiction. Napier’s testimony will help inform congressmen about this research and how public policy can help make further inroads.
Napier’s research at Rush is focused on changes in the adult mammalian brain that alter motivative behaviors, including those associated with drug addiction. These studies are providing novel targets for new addiction medications, and the utility of the targets as therapeutics are being explored in these models.