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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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Once known as a club drug, MDMA – commonly referred to as Ecstasy or Molly – is being studied as a potential treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that results from a traumatic experience, like experiencing or witnessing an especially life-threatening, horrifying, or dangerous event. In addition to combat veterans, there are several other groups (for example, rape victims and emergency responders) who are at higher risk for this condition. PTSD can be characterized by flashbacks to the traumatic event, frightening thoughts, angry outbursts, and exaggerated feelings of guilt or blame, among other symptoms. 

Recently, news stories have focused on how addiction is ravaging families and communities, particularly in rural areas. Around one in five Americans lives in a rural area, defined as a community with fewer than 2,500 people. Rural and urban communities both face the challenges of substance use, overdose, and the opioid epidemic. Although substance use rates in rural areas have kept pace with those in urban areas, rural communities seem to have been hit harder. For example, a recent statistic shows a greater increase in the proportion of babies born addicted to opioids in rural communities than in urban areas. 

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is an organization designed to help those struggling with alcoholism to stop drinking and maintain sobriety. Founded in 1935 by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, the group was reported to have over 2 million members worldwide in 2015. And though AA is well known, and many members testify to its role in helping them, there is a great deal of debate among lay people and professionals about just how effective AA is. 

2016 was a year of change for addiction policy in the U.S., and this was especially true for marijuana regulations. In this “tipping point” year, medical marijuana became legal in over half of the states. And, there are now a total of eight states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use. 

Dr. Kong, Assistant Professor at Yale University School of Medicine, spoke during our Addiction Speaker Series about growing use of cigars among youth, which are not strictly regulated like tobacco products are in the U.S. We had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Kong about her work.  

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