The NIH’s Office of Research on Women’s Health podcast, “Pinn Point on Women’s
Health,” provides updates on women’s health research, and is hosted by Vivian W.
Pinn, M.D., director of NIH’s Office of Research on Women’s Health. This month,
Dr. Pinn interviewed Nora Volkow, M.D., director of the National Institute on Drug
According to Nora Volkow, M.D., Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse
(NIDA), “in general, males tend to take more drugs than females. The exception is
the period of time between 12 and 17 years of age. There, we see a higher rate
of abuse of most drugs, including psychotherapeutics, among girls than among
boys.,” Drugs of abuse also include pain medications that contain opiates, such as
Vicodin or OxyContin, as well as stimulant medications, which are used to treat
attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Dr. Volkow noted that adolescent girls
have almost 60 to 70 percent higher rates of abuse of these substances than
adolescent boys. “Adolescents and young adults take stimulant medications to
improve cognitive performance, to study for an exam, or to prepare for something
that requires a deadline involving intense work,” Dr. Volkow said. In addition, girls
take stimulants in order to lose weight. Stimulant medications are anorexigenic;
meaning, they reduce feelings of hunger.
Treatment for addiction will depend on the type of psychotherapeutic used. “For
opiate analgesics, we have medications that look quite promising. We’re currently
conducting a trial to investigate the use of buprenorphine in the treatment of
addiction to opiate analgesics, and the results appear to be quite promising,” Dr.
There are also several evidence-based behavioral interventions that include
motivation intervention strategies, incentive intervention strategies, and group
therapy intervention strategies that have been shown to be effective. For
information on treatment options in your area, go to http://www.samhsa.gov/
call 1-800-662-HELP (1-800-662-4357).