Mr. Arnold Hopkins Special Assistant to the Assistant Attorney General
Office of Justice Programs U.S. Department of Justice
810 Seven Street, NW
Washington, DC 20530
Dear Mr. Hopkins:
On behalf of the National Institute on Dug Abuse (NIDA), I am pleased to provide more detailed information about the role that NIDA can play in offering technical assistance to the response team for the Rio Arriba, New Mexico, Community Health and Justice project.
As I discussed at the field hearing on March 30th, NIDA conducts and supports over 85 percent of the world's research on the health aspects of drug abuse and addiction. NIDA's mission of bringing the power of science to bear on drug abuse and addiction is accomplished through a dedicated cadre of scientists who are working to understand and find solutions to the Nation's drug abuse problem. NIDA's scientific research program addresses the most fundamental and essential questions about drug abuse, ranging from its causes and consequences to its prevention and treatment.
NIDA is committed to joining with our colleagues from other federal agencies and with local community members and service providers to combat drug use and addiction in this region, particularly the increasing use of black tar heroin. In particular, NIDA will provide technical expertise and leadership in the areas of community epidemiology and in ensuring that reliable science based information is used in all efforts.
NIDA has a large prevention and epidemiology research portfolio to help in this endeavor. The Community Epidemiology Work Group (CEWG), for example, is the type of mechanism that NIDA supports to detect and monitor changing drug patterns and emerging problems. The CEWG is a NIDA-sponsored network of epidemiologists and researchers from 21 U.S. metropolitan areas who meet semiannually to monitor community-level trends in drug use and abuse.
The CEWG provides frontline surveillance of the nature and extent of the drugproblem based on reports of dataof several types includingdrug abuse treatment admissions, drug-relatedmedical emergencies seen in hospitals, drug-related deaths certified by medical examiners, drug seizures by law
enforcement agencies, price and purity data based on street buys, trafficking patterns, and ethnographic information from researchers in direct contact with user networks. Building on the work of the CEWG, NIDA has recently developed a publication, "Assessing Drug Abuse Within and Across Communitites" that helps communities understand their local drug abuse problems. This in turn allows communities to tailor their prevention and treatment efforts to meet local needs.
NIDA will use tools such as the CEWG and the research-based guidebook to research the spread, growth or development of drug abuse related problems in the region. NIDA will also call upon its prevention research experts to help develop effective interventions and programs for the communities in the region.
NIDA will also continue to develop research-based publications such as one of our most popular publications, "Preventing Drug Use Among Children and Adolescents." This user-friendly guide of principles summarizes our knowledge gleaned from over 20 years of prevention research. Over 200,000 copies have been circulated to communities throughout the country. The prevention booklet is just one example of how we are bringing research to local communities, both rural and urban, to reduce drug use.
NIDA is also concerned about educating communities on research and prevention. NIDA takes a comprehensive public health approach in this regard, one that includes extensive education and prevention efforts, adequate treatment and aftercare services, and research. NIDA has an active information dissemination program that develops and disseminates science based materials on a continuous basis. Publications such as our Research Report Series and our fax on demand service, NIDA INFOFAX,which is available on the world wide web or by calling an 800 number, present the latest information on drugs of abuse in a concise manner that is understandable to members of the general public. Infofax provides fact sheets on drugs of abuse that can be faxed, mailed or read over the phone in English or Spanish to the requestor. Since we debuted this system in December 1997, we have distributed more than 250,000 fact sheets. NIDA is also in the final stages of developing and disseminating a new research-based guide, "Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment" to debut this Fall.
We also have a strong science education program to ensure that our Nation's youth have accurate science-based information to make healthy lifestyle choices. For example, we have developed award winning materials such as our "Mind Over Matter" series that was sent to every middle school in the Nation.
"Mind Over Matter" is a series of drug education brochures for students in grades five through nine to spark their curiosity and to inform them with the most up-to-date scientific research findings on the effects of drug abuse.
All of these NIDA-supported resources, as well as any new materials or research findings, willbe readily available to members of the proposed Rio Arriba Community Health and Justice Council. NIDA is committed to working with all involved in this project to help alleviate the drug abuse and addiction problems in this County. Please contact me if you have any questions or would like to discuss NIDA's role in any more detail. I look fonvard to working with you and all the others involved in this very worthwhile and important endeavor.
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