More Addictions, Less Stigma: Head of NIDA Wants Name Change to Include Porn, Food, Gambling (2007)

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COMMENTS: Nora Volkow is the head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and one of the top addiction researchers in the world. In 2007 she wanted to change the name of NIDA to National Institute on Diseases of Addiction to include pornography and other behavioral addictions. She knows - as do other researchers- that behavioral addictions involve the same mechanisms and pathways as drug addictions.


MORE ADDICTIONS, LESS STIGMA (requires purchase to see)

Science 6 July 2007:

Vol. 317 no. 5834 p. 23

DOI: 10.1126/science.317.5834.23a

• Random Samples

Two institutes in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) may soon get name changes to emphasize that addiction is a disease. Last week, a Senate panel agreed to change the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to the “National Institute on Diseases of Addiction” and to rename the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) the “National Institute on Alcohol Disorders and Health.”

The bill's sponsor, Senator Joe Biden (D-E), said the term “abuse” is “pejorative” and doesn't convey that addiction is a brain disease. NIDA director Nora Volkow also felt that her institute's name should encompass addictions such as pornography, gambling, and food, says NIDA adviser Glen Hanson. “She would like to send the message that [we should] look at the whole field.” NIAAA director Ting-Kai Li also wanted his institute's name changed to indicate that moderate drinking can be healthful.

The Senate bill—a companion to a House bill introduced by Representative Patrick Kennedy (D-RI)—was news to psychiatrist Eric Nestler of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. “My first reaction is that Joe Biden should have more important things to do,” Nestler says. Expanding NIDA's purview to “diseases of addiction” seems like “overkill,” he adds, given that NIH's mental health institute also funds studies on gambling and other compulsive behaviors.