The Buzz | The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse

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Welcome to The Buzz—The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse's online conversation about addiction and substance use.

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Image of actual kratom pills with a faux prescription logo.

“Natural,” “mild and pleasant,” “a solution for opioid addiction;” these are a few of the ways the substance kratom has been described in the media. Yet, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has long warned users about the “deadly risks” associated with consuming this herb, and just today issued a statement noting it should be treated no less seriously than other addictive opioids. So, what is kratom, why is it growing in popularity and what risks does it pose to users?

Candle flame light at night with abstract candles background

In our most recent poll, nearly 75 percent of participants voted that they think the number of deaths caused by drug overdoses in 2017 outnumbered those caused by guns or car crashes. While the exact figures have not yet been confirmed, it appears our readers will be proven right. 

Mom, dad, son and daughter watch TV on a couch

In addition to making the headlines of major newspapers from across the country, addiction is also gaining traction on the silver screen. This season, many of our favorite TV shows are addressing substance use disorders and risky drinking or drug use. However, they often sacrifice precision for plot points. Here, we’ve provided some suggested reading to accompany This Is Us, Grown-ish and 13 Reasons Why -- three of television’s most talked about shows -- to help set the record straight.

Students watching scary video on laptop

Thinking back to your middle school or high school health classes, you may recall photographs of lungs blackened by cigarette tar or videos of teenagers dropping out of school, fighting with friends and family, or even dying because of their errant drug and alcohol use. Exposing children and teenagers to the most damaging consequences of these behaviors has long been a mainstay in America’s addiction prevention strategy – but that poses the question: do scare tactics work?

two teenage boys with beers, scared male adolescent walking away

While scanning the latest news, it’s easy to feel as if we’ve traveled back in time to the 1980s. “Just say no?” “The war on drugs?” After nearly three decades, there’s still little evidence to suggest these outdated addiction prevention and treatment strategies work, and some evidence even shows that they are counterproductive. Yet, they continue to influence how we both talk about and treat addiction. And just last month, dialogue about the “gateway drug theory” resurfaced in the New York Times, raising the question: is this highly publicized hypothesis, which also originated in the final quarter of the 20th century, grounded in fact or fiction?

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