Warren Bickel, PhD, director of the Advanced Recovery Research Center at Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute in Roanoke, which sponsors the registry, said in a release that it was created to inform scientists about "recovery heroes" and to provide encouragement to individuals still struggling with addiction — including those with a tobacco habit.
Recovery heroes are defined as those who have been addiction-free for at least a year.
"No one has ever systematically looked at people in long-term recovery for clues about beating addiction," said Dr. Bickel.
He added that past neuroimaging studies have shown that addiction can change the structure of the brain and can persist for months and even years into recovery.
"We're trying to understand the addictive brain by shining a spotlight on the recovery process. And with neuroimaging techniques, we can learn how recovery success impacts brain function."
During a press conference to announce the registry's launch, Nora Volkow, MD, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), said she hopes the data collected will influence a more recovery-focused approach to research.
"Most of the research that has been done up to now has focused on that immediate intervention that would allow a person to stop taking drugs. Much less is known about recovery," she said.
"What are the active ingredients that can help us predict who is more likely to be successful and who is more vulnerable, so we can intervene accordingly?"
"Stop the Silence"
NIDA estimates substance abuse costs more than $600 billion annually in healthcare expenditures, crime-related costs, and lost productivity.
"Given the enormity of the problem, we're hoping this database will become a national resource for researchers," said Dr. Bickel.
The registry asks participants to provide, on an anonymous basis, information about both their addictions and their recovery process. In addition, they are asked if they would be willing to participate in future studies.
Dr. Volkow, calling the registry "brilliant," said that its collection of successful recovery stories should help people in fighting the stigmatization that comes from their struggle with addiction.
"We need to stop the silence. And the only way we're going to stop the stigmatization is by speaking up."
Medscape Medical News © 2011 WebMD, LLC
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Cite this: National Quit and Recovery Site Launches - Medscape - Oct 27, 2011.