NEW ORLEANS—Although the understanding of the neurobiology of addiction has grown substantially in the last decade, this has not had much of an effect on federal drug policy, a roundtable of neurobiologists, policymakers, and criminologists said at the 33rd Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience earlier this week.

Glen Hanson, former director and now assistant director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), said during the discussion on Tuesday (November 11) that among policymakers, drug abuse is seen through the opposing lenses of science and morality, and as a result, science often takes a back seat.

He offered as an example a government agency that asked for NIDA's imprimatur on a policy statement opposing needle replacement for HIV prevention. NIDA's exhaustive analysis of published studies found that needle replacement programs not only reduced HIV, but also decreased drug use, because addicts were more likely to be drawn into...

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