|Dr. Harriet de Wit is a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of Chicago. She has conducted research in human psychopharmacology of drug abuse for more than 30 years. Dr. de Wit serves as field editor for the journal Psychopharmacology and deputy editor for Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. She is a consultant to the Food and Drug Administration, serves on several scientific advisory boards and is a member of an National Institutes of Health study section. In 2009, she received the Marian W. Fischman Memorial Lectureship Award from the College on Problems of Drug Dependence. Dr. de Wit's research focuses on the physiological, subjective (i.e., mood-altering) and behavioral effects of drugs in healthy human volunteers. She investigates individual differences in responses to drugs, including differences related to genetics. She also studies relations among stress, impulsivity, and drugs of abuse. The overarching goal of the research is to understand how drugs alter behavior and to identify both the determinants and consequences of drug use.|
Drugs of abuse produce an array of subjective, behavioral, and physiological effects, some of which contribute to their attractiveness to users. However, individuals also vary widely in their responses to drugs, and certain responses may increase their likelihood for using the drugs repeatedly. We have studied variables that predict greater rewarding effects from drugs, including both trait-like variables, such as personality or genetic makeup, and contextual variables, such as the social setting in which the drugs are used. This presentation will review studies from Dr. de Wit's laboratory in which healthy adults received single doses of drugs, under placebo-controlled, double-blind conditions. The studies are designed to identify factors associated with greater rewarding effects of acute doses of drugs, with the ultimate goal of developing strategies for minimizing risk in at-risk populations.