Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


31st Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2005

Event Details

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Invited Paper Session #62
CE Offered: None

Prescription Painkiller Abuse: Trying to Get a Handle on the Problem

Saturday, May 28, 2005
4:00 PM–4:50 PM
Lake Ontario (8th floor)
Area: BPH; Domain: Basic Research
CE Instructor: Diana J. Walker, B.S.
Chair: Diana J. Walker (University of Chicago)
JAMES P. ZACNY (University of Chicago)
Dr. Zacny got his bachelor’s degree in psychology at St. Joseph’s College in Rennselaer, Indiana. He completed his doctorate in the behavioral analysis program in the Department of Psychology at West Virginia University under the mentorship of Dr. Andy Lattal. He then did a postdoctoral fellowship at the Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine with Dr. Maxine Stitzer, doing research on the effect of cigarette yield on smoking topography. At the University of Chicago as Research Associate, he initially divided his time between animal and human behavioral pharmacology in the Department of Psychiatry and trained with Drs. Harriet de Wit, Larry Chait, and Bill Woolverton. After several years, he transferred to the Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care, where he is currently a professor, and conducts research on various psychotropic drugs that are used by anesthesiologists in patient care. In 1999 Dr. Zacny received a MERIT award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse for his opioid research. In 2001, he was asked by the College on Problems of Drug Dependence to chair a taskforce on prescription opioid abuse; the resulting position statement stands as one of the first peer-reviewed documents that addressed this problem.

In the last several years, there has been evidence from a variety of sources that prescription painkiller abuse is a growing problem in the United States. Sources include epidemiological databases, governmental agencies, and law enforcement. This presentation will first describe the problem, put the problem of prescription opioid abuse into perspective by comparing its prevalence to prevalence of other abused substances, and present possible reasons for why the problem has surfaced. There are different populations of people that might be abusing prescription opioids, and these subpopulations will be identified and discussed. One of those populations are recreational drug users, and the presenter will discuss data from his laboratory as well as from others in which the abuse liability-related effects of widely used and abused prescription opioids have been profiled in this population. The presentation will close with a discussion of research avenues that remain to be explored, and strategies that are currently being used and strategies that that might be used to curb prescription opioid abuse.




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