NIDA International Forum Examines Impact of COVID-19 on Global Substance Use

NIDA International Program Director Steve Gust, Ph.D., chaired the 2021 NIDA International Forum, which was held in conjunction with the College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD) Annual Scientific Meeting. More than 80 researchers from more than 35 countries presented their findings in the NIDA International Poster Gallery on the CPDD virtual meeting platform. Three virtual plenary sessions featured presentations by researchers from 18 nations and 12 time zones. In lieu of travel awards, the NIDA International Program and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) supported CPDD meeting registrations for Forum presenters.

Dr. Gust chaired the opening plenary session, which reviewed NIDA efforts to support graduate, professional development, and technology transfer programs that promote adoption of evidence-based innovations and educate addiction researchers and treatment providers. The opening plenary also examined the short- and potential long-term impacts of COVID-19 on substance use around the world, presenting data from EMCDDA and the NIDA-supported Global Study of Stress and Resilience in the Face of COVID-19. Anja Busse, program officer at the Prevention, Treatment and Rehabilitation Section of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Drug Prevention and Health Branch, chaired the second plenary session, which described the development, field-testing, quality assurance testing, and implementation of drug use disorder treatment standards. Speakers included scientists from UNODC, the World Health Organization (WHO), the U.S. Department of State, and six nations: Australia, Chile, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Spain. Dr. Gust also chaired the final plenary session, which featured rapid research reports from 11 researchers in nine countries. Speakers from Brazil, Canada, Georgia, Mexico, Palestine, and Romania discussed the impact of COVID-19 on substance use in their countries. Other topics included service dogs as complementary therapies for Canadian veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and problematic substance use; cannabis use by female students in Ecuador; implementation of the Universal Prevention Curriculum among drug demand reduction practitioners in Nigeria; and translation of a standard stigma scale in Pakistan.

More details about the 2021 NIDA International Forum are available online: