(Vienna, 03-09-2014) In addition to classic addictive substances, more and more new psychoactive substances are coming onto the market. Their effects and dangerous side effects are mostly unexplored. In order to be able to better research addictive disorders, MedUni Vienna has established a new Addiction Research Center. A new centre of excellence will be created, which, as well as coordinating research on addiction, will also help to increase public awareness and help with prevention.
New psychoactive substances come onto the market in the form of so-called "designer drugs" and are rarely researched. Their effects are a health risk for the people concerned, particularly minors, in the same way as classic addictive substances such as nicotine, alcohol, cannabis, cocaine and opioids. In order to optimise research and awareness of addiction and these addictive substances, the Medical University of Vienna has just established the new Addiction Research Center called AddRess, which is an abbreviation of "Addiction Research & Science".
Its purpose is to gain new scientific knowledge and to increase public awareness. "For us, it is about reducing the suffering of individuals, as well as the economic burden on society, through public awareness," explains Harald Sitte from the Institute For Pharmacology at the Centre for Physiology and Pharmacology at MedUni Vienna.
In the future, the center will serve as an independent reference platform for fact-based information on addiction problems. Its field covers the interdisciplinary promotion, support and stimulation of diagnostic, therapeutic and psychosocial research into the aetiology, pathophysiology and epidemiology of addiction problems. This involves both clinical and experimental research.
As well as focusing on substance addiction, it will also focus on non-substance-related forms of addiction. In order to cover the full spectrum, researchers from different specialist areas are collaborating, for example the Center for Physiology and Pharmacology, the University Clinic for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, the Center for Public Health, and the Center for Brain Research. In addition, existing international connections are being further developed through this collaboration, thus providing one of the particular strengths of the new centre. It is hoped that this will strengthen the Austrian network with recognised researchers and institutions.
Awareness and prevention
The center sees itself as a point of contact for people seeking information, however, the initiators also want to contribute proactively to awareness. "A particular objective is to increase awareness amongst young people," explains Harald Sitte, "much like 'Science makes School', we will approach children and young people directly in order to make them aware of the dangers of drug use."