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Addiction Research


Addiction research is a broad term used to describe:

  • scientific research on effectiveness of existing treatment modalities
  • scientific research on the development of new treatment modalities
  • population research used to describe the main patterns of alcohol and other drug related harms

As in other fields of medicine and psychology, a gap exists in the addiction treatment field between clinical practice and scientific research. This section is designed for clinicians, policymakers and researchers and examines cutting-edge scientific findings about drug abuse and addiction and their application to clinical practice.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a division of the US Department of Health and Human Services, supports more than 85 percent of the world’s research on drug abuse and addiction. NIDA-funded research includes:

  • Genetic and social determinants of vulnerability and response to drugs (see Etiology);
  • Short- and long-term effects of drugs on the brain, including addiction (see Neuroscience);
  • Other health and social impacts of drug abuse, including infectious disease and economic costs (see Consequences);
  • Development and testing of medication and behavioural treatments for abuse and addiction (see Treatment); and
  • Development and evaluation of effective messages to deter young people, in particular, from abusing drugs (see Prevention).

Recognizing the gap in the addiction treatment field between practice and research, NIDA created the National Drug Abuse Clinical Trials Network (CTN), a research infrastructure consisting of 16 departments designed to test the effectiveness and usefulness of new and improved interventions.

Once the research is conducted at CTN, it is then disseminated through the NIDA Blending Initiative, NIDA’s most recent innovation to help translate research into practice.

For more information on NIDA’s drug abuse and addiction research visit


Epidemiologic surveys document the prevalence of an illness such as alcohol dependence in the entire population rather than just one segment of the population, such as those seeking treatment. This allows researchers to track trends in illnesses – including whether certain people are more vulnerable for a particular disease, at what age they manifest symptoms, and how quickly the illness progresses.

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Printed Resources – General Reading on Addiction Research

Addiction Controversies (1990) provides an alternative point of view that is skeptical about the prevailing research that attempts to explain substance abuse by finding similarities between various drugs or focuses on one topic such as relapse prevention. David M. Warburton.

Bridging the Gap Between Practice and Research: Forging Partnerships(1998) examines why research remains remote from treatment and makes specific recommendations to community providers, federal and state agencies, and other decision makers. Sara Lamb, Merwyn R. Greenlick, Dennis McCarty, Institute of Medicine (IOM).

Cocaine, Marijuana, Designer Drugs: Chemistry, Pharmacology, and Behavior(1989) is a review of the chemical, clinical, pharmacological, medical and social aspects of the chemicals that are widely abused is presented in this highly informative publication. The contributing authors represent expertise in clinical medicine, pharmacy, chemistry, pharmacology, social work and psychiatry. Kinfe K. Redda, Charles A. Walker, Gene Barnett.

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Printed Resources – Bibliographies and Addiction Research

Alcohol Education Materials: An Annotated Bibliography (1980) includes references to books, curriculum guides, paperbacks, pamphlets, leaflets, periodicals, and miscellaneous items designed for alcohol education. Gail Gleason Milgram.

International Bibliography of Studies on Alcohol(1980) provides a broad multidisciplinary and interprofessional bibliography in three volumes: 1901-1950 and 1951-1960, Rutgers Center of Alcohol Studies.

Occupational Alcoholism: An Annotated Bibliography(1984) covers occupational alcoholism programs and related employee assistance programs. It is arranged in twenty subject categories. Norman R. Kurtz, Bradley Googins, William Howard.

Printed Resources – Epidemiology and Addiction Research

Alcohol in health and disease(2001) examines physical and psychological consequences of alcohol use and abuse, and considers the environmental and ethnic factors that lead to addiction using epidemiological studies. Dharam P. Agarwal, Helmut K. Seitz

Epidemiology of Drug Abuse(2005) is the contributions twenty-six experts on the future of the field, balancing the practical concerns involved in gathering drug abuse data with the ethics of using the information. Zili Sloboda.

Mortality Amongst Illicit Drug Users: Epidemiology, Causes and Intervention (2006) is a review of the epidemiology, causes, prevalence, interventions, demography, and associated risk factors of illicit drug-related mortality. Shane Darke, Louisa Degenhardt, Richard Mattick

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Printed Resources – Etiology and Addiction Research

Psychology of Alcohol and Other Drugs: A Research Perspective (2000) explores concepts of individual use origins, personality and gender differences in drug use and recovery from dependency. John Jung.

Printed Resources – Forensic Science and Addiction Research

Analysis of Addictive and Misused Drugs(1995) examines the chromatographic and nonchromatographic methods available to identify, measure, and screen for nonmedical drug use. John A. Adamovics.

The Analysis of Controlled Substances: A Systematic Approach (2003) presents new developments in sampling and drug profiling, and provides practical information on how to carry out analysis, what the results mean and how they can be used as court evidence and for drugs intelligence purposes. Michael D. Cole.

The Analysis of Drugs of Abuse: An Instruction Manual (1995) is a self-teaching guide reference text for forensic chemistry laboratories and law enforcement agencies. Michael D. Cole, Brian Caddy.

The Analysis of Drugs in Biological Fluids (1995) describes the latest advances and gives examples of analysis of drugs in biological fluids. Joseph Chamberlain.

Drug Abuse Handbook (1998) contains detailed discussions of drug-related issues in criminalistics, pathology, and toxicology. Impairment testing and the pharmacokinetics of abused drugs are examined in detail, as is the field of workplace drug testing, the use of alternate testing matrices, drugs in sports, addiction medicine, and drug-related medical emergencies. Steven B. Karch.

First International Symposium of Current Issues of Drug Abuse Testing(1992) elaborates on the topics covered by top experts in the field of drug testing at a 1990 international symposium.

Handbook of Analytical Therapeutic Drug Monitoring and Toxicology(1997) is for toxicologists, clinical laboratory and pharmaceutical scientists wishing to keep abreast of drug monitoring. Steven How-Yan Wong, Irving Sunshine.

The Misuse of Drugs Act: A guide for forensic scientists(2003) provides a chemical background to the legal controls on drugs of abuse. Includes detailed coverage of ‘designer drugs’ and the generic legislation used to tackle them. Leslie A. King.

Principles of Forensic Toxicology (2003) includes an introduction to postmortem forensic toxicology, forensic drug testing; forensic methodologies such as specimen preparation, spectrophotometry, chromatography; and commonly encountered analytes including alchol, CNS depressants, opioids, cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamines, etc. Barry Levine.

Therapeutic Drug Monitoring and Toxicology by Liquid Chromatography(1985) deals with the optimization of the clinical response as guided by the drug concentration in biological fluid such as plasma or serum. Steven H.Y. Wong (Ed.).

Printed Resources – History of Addiction Research

Creating the American Junkie: Addiction Research in the Classic Era (2005) examines how the construction of addiction in the early twentieth century was influenced by the professional concerns of psychiatrists seeking to increase their medical authority; by the disciplinary ambitions of pharmacologists to build a drug development infrastructure; and by the American Medical Association’s campaign to reduce prescriptions to opiates. Caroline Jean Acker.

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Printed Resources – Neurobiology and Addiction Research

Alcohol and Neurobiology: Brain Development and Hormone Regulation(1992) researches the neurological consequences of alcohol abuse, concentrating on prevention and treatment. Ronald Ross Watson, National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Drug Abuse in the Decade of the Brain: In Honor of Dr. Leo Hollister(1997) describes a number of newly discovered basic brain mechanisms and the alterations caused by drugs of abuse. Contributions by top researchers in fields of radian biology, biochemistry, genetics, and pharmacology examine the new technological improvements for the measurement of brain function, metabolism, blood flow and drug elimination and report changes in brain biochemistry, including DNA expression, as they occur during drug abuse. Gabriel G. Nahas, Thomas F. Burks (Eds.).

Drugs, the Brain, and Behavior: The Pharmacology of Abuse and Dependence (1999) explores the brain and what happens when drugs affect its functions. A good reference for addiction clinicians and medical professionals. John Brick, Carlton K. Erickson.

Imaging Drug Action in the Brain (1993) provides detailed methodological information and presents a current review of information obtained using various methods to delineate the neuroanatomy of drug action. Edythe D. London.

Nicotine, Caffeine, and Social Drinking: Behavior and Brain Function (1997) focuses readers’ attention on the effects of normal, socially accepted psychoactive substances on cognitive performance and on the brain. Divided into three sections, this book studies each substance individually before examining the effects of their combined usage. Jan Snel, Monicque M. Lorist.

Sites of Drug Action in the Human Brain (1995) addresses drugs of abuse and treats the effects of various drugs on behavior and mood, as well as on metabolism and blood flow in the human brain. It also presents the methodological aspects of investigating the sites of drug action in the human brain. Anat Biegon, Nora D. Volkow.

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Printed Resources – Nutrition and Addiction Research

Alcohol Nutrition and the Nervous System (1985) is a collection of research papers on the effect of nutrition in the treatment of alcoholism and alcohol-related damage to the central nervous system. S. Parvez, Y. Burov, H. Parvez, E. Burns.

Printed Resources – Special Populations and Addiction Research

Alcohol Use Among US Ethnic Minorities (1993) is the result of a 4-day conference on four major ethnic or racial groups in the United States: Blacks, Hispanics, American Indians, and Asian/Pacific Americans. Experts review current knowledge about alcohol and minorities from past research. Danielle Spiegler.

Conducting Drug Abuse Research with Minority Populations: Advances and Issues(1998) brings you the voices of drug abuse researchers who discuss the most important concerns about conducting research in drug-taking minority populations. Mario De La Rosa, Bernard Segal, Richard Lopez.

For more information on Special Populations based on race, age, gender, etc. refer to the Special Populations section.

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Printed Resources – Tobacco and Addiction Research

Effects of Nicotine on Biological Systems II (1995) describes the latest research and clinical advances on nicotine pharmacology including the neuronal, trophic, and endocrine effects of nicotine. P.B.S. Clarke.

Smoking: Individual Differences, Psychopathology, and Emotion (1995) develops an empirically-based model that reflects the multi-dimensional, individual-difference-related causal paths associated with smoking and its reinforcing and affect-modulating effects.; Starting with a review of models of smoking motivation, this volume then goes on to discuss effect and emotion, and the nature, biological bias and relationships among personality, temperament and psychopathology. David G. Gilbert.

Printed Resources – Treatment and Addiction Research

Recent Developments in Alcholism: Research on Alcoholism Treatment (Vol. 16) (2003) focuses on treatment research with sections on methodology, psychosocial treatments, pharmacotherapy, other treatment topics, and research priorities. Marc Galanter (Ed.).

Treating alcohol and drug abuse: An Evidence Based Review (2003) is a comprehensive scientific review of the findings from more than 1,600 studies on the effectiveness of different addiction treatments. Mats Berglund, Sten Thelander, Egon Jonsson.

For more information on addiction treatment see the Addiction Treatment section.

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Websites Specific to Canada Addiction Research

Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA)
Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)

Online Resources – Government Websites Specific to United States Addiction Research

Multidimensional Family Therapy (MDFT)
IREFREA European Institute of Studies on Prevention
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)
Substance Abuse & Mental Health Data Archive (SAMHDA)
Women and Sex/Gender Differences Research Program (NIDA)

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Online Resources – University Websites Specific to Addiction Research

Addiction Research Center (Vanderbilt U., US)
Addiction Research Institute (U. of Texas at Austin, US)
Addiction Science Research and Education Center (U. of Texas at Austin, US)
Addictive Behaviours Laboratory (U. of Calgary, Canada)
Addictive Behaviors Research Center (U. of Washington, US)
Alcohol Clinical Training Project (Boston U.)
Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute (ADAI) (U. of Washington, US)
Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Program (Washington State U., US)
Alcohol Epidemiology Program (U. of Minnesota, US)
Alcohol Research Center (U. of Colorado, Denver, US)
Alcohol Research Center (U. of Connecticut, US)
Alcohol and Substance Use Research Institute (U. of S. Florida, US)
Brandeis/Harvard Center on Managed Care and Drug Abuse Treatment (Harvard U., US)
Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies (U. of N. Carolina, US)
California Collaborative Center for Substance Abuse Policy Research (U. of California, San Francisco, US)
Center for Addiction & Behavioral Health Research (U. of Wisconsin, US)
Centre for Addiction Research of British Columbia (U. of Victoria, Canada)
Center for Addiction Studies (U. of Minnesota Duluth)
Center for the Advancement of Public Health (George Mason U., US)
Center for Advancing Longitudinal Drug Abuse Research (CALDAR) (UCLA, US)
Center for Alcohol & Addiction Studies (Brown U., US)
Center for Alcohol and Drug Research (U. of Aarhus, Denmark)
Center of Alcohol Studies (Rutgers U., US)
Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse, and Addictions (U. of New Mexico, US)
Center for Antisocial Drug Dependence (U. of Colorado, US)
Center for Drug & Alcohol Problems (Medical U. of S. Carolina, US)
Center of Drug and Alcohol Research (U. of Kentucky, US)
Center for Drug and Alcohol Studies (CDAS) (U of Delaware, US)
Center for Education and Drug Abuse Research (U. of Pittsburgh, US)
Center for the Neurobehavioral Study of Alcohol (CNSA) (Wake Forest U.)
Center for Prevention Research & Development (U. of Illinois, US)
Centre for Social and Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation (Massey U., New Zealand)
Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR) (University of Maryland, US)
Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control (U. of Massachusetts, US)
Center for the Translational Neuroscience of Alcoholism (Yale U., US)
Charleston Alcohol Research Center (Medical U. of South Carolina, US)
The Emory Alcohol and Lung Biology Center (Emory U. School of Medicine, US)
Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center (U. of Calif., San Francisco, US)
Fetal Alcohol and Drug Unit (U. of Washington, US)
Indiana Prevention Resource Center (Indiana U., US)
Institute for Social Drug Research (U. of Ghent, Belgium)
Integrated Substance Abuse Programs (UCLA, US)
LSUHSC Alcohol Research Center (Louisiana State U., US)
Midwest Alcoholism Research Center (Washington U. in St. Louis, US)
National Addiction Centre  (U. of Otago, New Zealand)
National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (Columbia U., US)
National Drug & Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) (U. of New South Wales, Australia)
National Hispanic Science Network on Drug Abuse (NHSN) (U. of Miami, US)
One Sky Center (Oregon Health Sciences U., US)
Portland Alcohol Research Center (Oregon Health & Science U., US)
Prevention Research Center (U. of Kentucky, US)
Research Center for Alcoholic Liver & Pancreatic Disease & Cirrhosis (U. of Southern California, US)
Research Institute on Addictions (U. of Buffalo, US)
Southwest Addictions Research Group (U. of New Mexico, US)
Substance Abuse Research Center (U. of Michigan, US)
Vanderbilt Addiction Center (Vanderbilt U., US)
Youth Alcohol Prevention Research Center (Boston U., US)

Online Resources – Private Foundations Specific to Addiction Research

Alcohol Beverage Medical Research Foundation (ABMRF)
Alcohol Research Group – Public Health Institute
Betty Ford Institute – Betty Ford Center
Butler Center for Research – Hazelden Foundation
Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Research (CeASAR) Children’s Hospital, Boston
Center for Healthcare Improvement for Addictions, Mental Illness and Medically Vulnerable Populations (CHAMMP) (Harborview Medical Center, US)
Center for the Study of Addictions & Recovery (C-STAR) – National Devt. & Research Institutes, Inc. 
Pearson Center for Alcohol and Addiction Research – Scripps Research Institute
Prevention Research Center (US)
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (US)

Online Resources – International Websites Specific to Addiction Research

Australian Centre for Addiction Research (Australia)
Centre for Addiction Research and Education Scotland (UK)
Finnish Foundation for Alcohol Studies (Finland)
SoRAD (Sweden)

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Online Resources – Journals Specific to Addiction Research (English Language)

Addiction (UK)
Addiction Biology (Germany)
Addiction Research and Theory (UK)
Addictive Behaviors (Netherlands)
Addictive Disorders and Their Treatment (US)
Alcohol and Alcoholism (UK)
Alcohol – An International Biomedical Journal (US)
Alcohol Research: Current Reviews (US)
Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research (US)
Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly (US)
The American Journal on Addictions (US)
The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse (US)
Contemporary Drug Problems
Current Drug Abuse Reviews (Netherlands)
Drug and Alcohol Dependence (Netherlands)
Drug and Alcohol Review (Australia)
Drug and Alcohol Today (UK)
Drugs: Education, Prevention & Policy (UK)
European Addiction Research (Switzerland)
Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology (US)
International Journal of Drug Policy (Netherlands)
International Journal of Drug Testing (US)
International Journal of Mental Health & Addiction (Canada)
Journal of Addiction Science & Clinical Practice (US) (NIDA)
Journal of Addictions Nursing (US)
Journal of Addictive Diseases (US)
Journal of Alcohol & Drug Education (US)
Journal on Alcoholism and Related Addictions (Croatia)
Journal of Child & Adolescent Substance Abuse (US)
Journal of Drug Education (US)
Journal of Drug Issues (US)
Journal of Dual Diagnosis (US)
Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse (US)
Journal of Groups in Addiction & Recovery
Journal of Maintenance in the Addictions (US)
The Journal of Psychoactive Drugs (US)
Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions (US)
Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs (US)
Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment (US)
Journal of Substance Use (UK)
Mental Health and Substance Use: Dual Diagnosis (UK)
Nicotine & Tobacco Research  (UK)
Nordic Studies on Alcohol & Drugs (Finland)
Psychology of Addictive Behaviors  (US)
Substance Abuse (US)
Substance Use and Misuse (US)

Online Resources – Societies Specific to Addiction Research

American Public Health Association (US)
American Society for Addiction Medicine (US)
Canadian Society for Addiction Medicine (Canada)
College on Problems of Drug Dependence (US)
International Society of Addiction Journal Editors (UK)
Research Society on Alcoholism (US)
Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco (US)
Society for the Study of Addiction (UK)

Online Resources – Databases Specific to Addiction Research

Drug Info Clearinghouse (Australia)
ETOH Alcohol and Alcohol Problems Science Database (NIAAA)
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Data Archive (SAMHDA)

Online Resources – Aboriginals and Addiction Research

Aboriginal Peoples: Mental Health & Substance Misuse Selected Bibliography (July 2004) is limited in scope primarily to selected books and reports from the Center for Addiction Mental Health (CAMH) Library collections, supplemented with a small number of Web resources and journal articles.

Online Resources – Epidemiology and Addiction Research

Alcoholism in North America, Europe, and Asia (1992) provides cross-cultural epidemiology using DSM-III criteria and the Diagnostic Interview Schedule (DIS). John E. Helzer, Glorisa J. Canino.

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Online Resources – Harm Reduction and Addiction Research

Demographic and Geographic Variations in Injection Drug Use (July 2007) shows that the use of injectable drugs varies by demographic group and geographic area. National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The NSDUH Report.

Forward Thinking on Drugs: A Review of the Evidence-Base for Harm Reduction Approaches to Drug Use (2003) addresses our understanding of harm reduction and summarizes its key principles before going on to consider the strength and nature of the evidence of various forms of ‘harm reduction’ interventions. Neil Hunt.

Online Resources – Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender (GLBT) and Addiction Research

Alcohol Dependence and Misuse among Older Gay and Lesbian People(March 2006) shows that older gay and lesbian face special age related issues. Alcohol and Seniors.

Alcohol, Tobacco & Other Drug Problems & Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Individuals (July 2002) shows LGBT people are more likely to use alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs than the general population. National Association of Lesbian and Gay Addiction Professionals (NALGAP).

Assessing Sexual Compulsivity/Addiction in Chemically Dependent Gay Men (1997) Joseph M. Amico. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention, Volume 4, No. 4.

Online Resources – History of Addiction Research

Proceedings of the Society for the Study and Cure of Inebriety (1884 to 1901) Royal Society of Medicine.

Online Resources – Neuroscience and Addiction Research

Neuroscience of Psychoactive Substance Use and Dependence (2004) is an attempt to provide a comprehensive overview of the biological factors related to substance use and dependence by summarizing the vast amount of knowledge gained in the last 20-30 years.  World Health Organization (WHO).

Online Resources – Offenders and Addiction Research

Drugs and Crime Research Program  evaluates national, state, and local drug intervention programs, including treatment in prisons and drug court programs. National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, US Department of Justice.

Online Resources – Pregnant Mothers and Addiction Research

Treatment of Drug-Exposed Women and Children: Advances in Research Methodology (1997) presents experiences, products, and procedures of NIDA-supported Treatment Research Demonstration Program projects. NCADI # M166; NTIS # 96-179106, Research Monograph 166.

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Online Resources – Seniors and Addiction Research

Seniors Survey – Prevalence of Substand Use and Gambling Among New Brunswick Adults Aged 55 + (2002) New Brunswick Department of Health and Wellness

Substance Abuse Among Older Adults (1998) Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) 26 brings together the literature on substance abuse and gerontology to recommend best practices for identifying, screening, assessing, and treating alcohol and prescription drug abuse among people age 60 and older. This manual is for any health professional who has regular contact with older adults. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). DHHS Publication 98-3179.

Substance Use Disorder Treatment for People with Physical and Cognitive Disabilities (1998) Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) 29 assist health providers who work with older adults that may be experiencing physical and cognitive disabilities. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). DHHS Publication 98-3249.

For additional research on seniors see the Older Adults: Substance Use and Serious Mental Illness of the Office of Applied Studies website, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Online Resources – Women and Addiction Research

Stress, Gender, and Alcohol-Seeking Behavior(1996) addresses how the hormones involved in the stress response and in gender differences influence the vulnerability to develop alcoholism and alcohol consumption. Walter A. Hunt, Sam Zakhari.

Women and Drinking (August 2003) addresses women’s health and the consumption of alcohol. National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). NIH Publication 03-4956.

Women Drug Abuse in Europe: Gender Identity(2000) identifies the repercussions of the development of the female identity in the use of drugs and the question of maternity in drug addiction. Paolo Stocco, Juan Jose Llopis Llacer, Laura DeFazio, Amador Calafat, Fernando Mendes. IREFREA.

Women and Opiate Addiction: A European Perspective (2002) highlights the complex situation of women who are either at risk or in circumstances of psychosocial discomfort due to drug abuse. Paolo Stocco, Juan Jose Llopis Llacer. IREFREA.

Substance abuse treatment and care for women: Case studies and lessons learned (August 2004) is about substance abuse treatment for women in general. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. ISBN 92-1-148194-5.

For additional research on women see the Women and Substance Use section of the Office of Applied Studies website.

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