Subcommittee Explores Role of Science in Curbing Meth Use

Sep 18, 2013

Washington, D.C. – The Subcommittee on Research and Technology today held a hearing on methamphetamine (meth) addiction and how scientific advancements can help provide possible solutions. Witnesses testified on the growing meth problem and discussed the latest research on meth addiction, including prospective technologies to prevent large-scale unauthorized purchases of pseudoephedrine (PSE).

Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): “The meth problem is an example of a clear societal need where science can yield potential solutions that will benefit the American public. The National Science Foundation (NSF) will play an integral role towards a more complete understanding of this problem.  Hypothesis-based data-driven social science research can be used to understand behavioral science behind addiction.”

Meth is a highly addictive stimulant that affects the central nervous system and can be easily made with relatively inexpensive over-the-counter ingredients. This makes it a drug with high potential for widespread abuse. Scientific research to understand the relationship between the brain and meth could better inform treatment options.

Subcommittee Chairman Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.): “As a medical doctor, I personally know the devastation that addiction can cause and even after meth addicts kick their habit, research shows these addicts experience permanent damage. Despite the grim realities of meth addiction, science can provide valuable insights to this problem. Basic science agencies like the National Institutes of Health have spent over $68 million in FY 2013 to understand the neurological basis of meth addiction. NSF also supports fundamental non-medical basic science research, in particular behavioral research behind the psychology of addiction.”

Witnesses also discussed how scientific research could better inform law enforcement on how to clean up the hazardous materials found in meth labs that pose a serious health risk. The Science, Space, and Technology Committee has examined this issue over the course of several Congresses, which resulted in the Methamphetamine Remediation Research Act of 2007. The law created a research program for the remediation of closed meth labs and required EPA to develop guidelines for decontaminating meth labs, based on the best currently available research.

For more information about today’s hearing, including witness testimony, please visit the Science, Space, and Technology Committee website.