The Buzz | The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse


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

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The U.S. now consumes about 80 percent of the world’s opioid pain medication, despite being 5 percent of the world’s population; and the number of opioid prescriptions nearly quadrupled between 1999 and 2014. Painkillers remain the most prescribed class of drugs in America.

It’s no secret that drinking is a major issue on college campuses. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reports that alcohol consumption on campuses is so embedded in college culture that it is often considered a rite of passage. Yet drinking and particularly binge drinking in college remains a serious public health concern. 

As part of The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse Speaker Series, in which leading experts present their research and insights, Herbert D. Kleber, MD, Founder and Director Emeritus of the Division on Substance Abuse at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and the New York State Psychiatric Institute, gave an in-depth presentation on marijuana and the effects of legalization. We spoke with Dr. Kleber to hear a little bit more about his take on marijuana legalization, edibles and how marijuana impacts the brain.

The public view of marijuana is changing rapidly. It seems like every day there are news stories about states moving toward legalization, newfound uses for medical marijuana, how health risks of marijuana may be less than for other drugs and debates regarding whether marijuana is actually addictive. With all this saturation of media coverage and the shifting perspectives on marijuana, there’s an important group we have a tendency to forget: people who use marijuana and are trying to quit.

Stories surrounding opioid addiction tend to be overwhelmingly negative and dire, often leaving people with little hope. This week – which President Obama proclaimed as Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week – I’d like to shift the conversation and talk about how one state has taken extraordinary measures in responding to the opioid epidemic. 

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