Joining NIDA As A New Division Director, Dr. Carlos Blanco Speaks With The Fix

By John Lavitt 06/05/15

Dr. Blanco has done work on addiction in conjunction with mood, depression, and anxiety disorders.

Dr Carlos Blanco
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Dr. Carlos Blanco has been named by the National Institute on Drug Abuse as the new director of the Division of Epidemiology, Services, and Prevention Research. As leading researcher in the interface between epidemiology and the treatment of addictive disorders, Dr. Blanco has done important work on addiction co-occurring with other conditions, such as mood, depression, or anxiety disorders. The Division of Epidemiology, Services, and Prevention Research supports research to ensure evidence-based practices are being optimally utilized to prevent and treat co-occurring disorders.

“Dr. Blanco’s work as a deeply committed research psychiatrist has sought to integrate insights from both behavioral health research and neuroscience to develop novel, more effective interventions to prevent and treat addictive disorders,” explained NIDA Director Nora D. Volkow, M.D. “We are delighted he has decided to join NIDA.”

The Fix recently interviewed Dr. Volkow about her work at NIDA. Given Dr. Blanco’s new role, Treatment Pro News Editor John Lavitt spoke with the researcher, asking him for specifics in regards to his future endeavors with NIDA:

The Fix: Given the prescription drug epidemic across the country, how can NIDA's Division of Epidemiology, Services, and Prevention Research help stem the tide?

Dr. Carlos Blanco: Addressing this problem is obviously not easy, although progress is being made. I think we should continue the work the Division has been doing in identifying groups at risk and promoting the use of medications that provide treatment for pain, but also reduce the risk of abuse and diversion.

The Fix: Do you believe prevention science has evolved to the point where NIDA's Division of Epidemiology, Services, and Prevention Research can make a substantial impact, addressing the problems of drug misuse and abuse before they become problems?

Dr. Carlos Blanco: There are now a series of preventive interventions that have shown efficacy. The challenge now is to implement those interventions at a larger level, so that they have a bigger impact on the lives of Americans across the country.

Currently professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center, Dr. Blanco is excited to be able to apply his expertise to his new appointment. Dr. Blanco’s accomplishments include a detailed examination of the course and stages of substance use disorders, the development of methodologies to improve clinical trials in mental health, and the development and testing of interventions that combine key elements of current evidence-based techniques. His research has recently shown that, contrary to popular belief, people in recovery from a substance use disorder are not at increased risk for a new addiction.

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Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.