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The goal of all NIDA studies is to find out how substance use affects the brain and body.

Healthy Control Studies at NIDA

NIDA needs study participants who have never used alcohol, nicotine, or other drugs. These participants are often part of comparison groups (also known as “control participants”) for Healthy Control studies. You may also be eligible for a Healthy Control study if you:

  • have used a substance in the past but no longer do
  • currently smoke cigarettes
  • occasionally use alcohol

Control participants may:

  • participate in studies where no drugs, alcohol, nicotine or investigational medications are administered
  • be exposed to nicotine or study medications under medical supervision and in accordance with strict research guidelines

Please note, we do not give alcohol or drugs like marijuana, heroin, or cocaine to people who have never used these substances.

Former Smokers Study

Current Healthy Control Studies

The purpose of this study is to develop new ways to measure nicotine dependence severity that may be useful in guiding development of new smoking cessation treatment targets. This study is accepting men and women who are 18 to 60 years of age and in generally good health.

This study is looking for participants who are

  • Current smokers not interested in quitting at this time
  • Past smokers who have successfully quit for at least 1 year
  • Non-smokers

For research purposes, participants will be asked to:

  • Attend 1-2 visits
  • 1 session for consent, orientation and training, lasting about 3 hours
  • 1 MRI scan, total visit length is about 4 to 5 hours
  • 1 blood draw to obtain genetic information
  • Complete a brief medical assessment at each visit
  • Answer questionnaires about how you think at feel at each visit
  • Complete various thinking tasks inside and outside of the MRI

This study takes place at the NIDA Intramural Research Program located on the Johns Hopkins Bayview campus in east Baltimore. There is no cost for participation and participants are paid for their time and travel.

Call 1-800-535-8254 for a confidential screening.

The purpose of this study is to examine the effects of a brain stimulation device called Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation, also known as tDCS in both smokers and non-smokers. tDCS has the potential to be used as a treatment for smoking addiction in the future.

This study is accepting men and women who are 18 to 60 years of age, are non-smokers and are in generally good health. Participation includes 3 study visits lasting 4-8 hours each.

For research purposes, participants will:

  • Complete multiple tDCS sessions lasting about 25 minutes each
  • Complete MRI scan(s)
  • Answer questionnaires
  • Receive a physical exam
  • Provide blood, urine samples

This study takes place at the NIDA Intramural Research Program located on the Johns Hopkins Bayview campus in east Baltimore. There is no cost for participation and participants are paid for their time and travel.

Call 1-800-535-8254 for a confidential screening.

People with addictions often find it hard to choose the long-term benefits of abstinence over the short-term effects of using drugs. Based on studies in lab animals and humans, we think this is partly due to parts of the brain involved in certain types of learning and decision-making. We can test these basic functions using a simple task with pictures and odors.

The purpose of this study is to see whether performance in a learning task differs between people who have opioid-use disorder and people who don’t.

You may be eligible for this study if you meet all these criteria:

  1. age between 21 and 50 years;
  2. willing to fast for at least 6 hours before the study session and smell food odors;
  3. if you have an opioid-use disorder, you must either
    1. be abstinent for at least 3 weeks or
    2. be in methadone or buprenorphine treatment

Design:
This study takes place at the National Institute on Drug Abuse Intramural Research Program (NIDA IRP) in Baltimore. It requires 1 visit for a lab session. The visit will take up to 5 hours.

Lab session. Before you come for the lab session, we’ll ask you not to eat or drink anything except water for at least 6 hours. When you get here:

  • We’ll check you for signs of intoxication. If you’re intoxicated, we’ll have to reschedule the session.
  • We’ll take a urine and breath sample to test for drugs and recent drinking. When you give the urine sample, you may be watched by a staff member of the same sex as you. If you’re female, we’ll test your urine to see if you’re pregnant. If you’re pregnant, you can’t stay in the study.
  • We’ll give you tests of learning and behavior. The tests involve looking at shapes on a computer screen; those shapes will be paired with different food odors. After you’ve seen enough pairings, we’ll show you the shapes and ask you which odor you expect.
  • To expose you to the odors, we’ll place a sterile tube under your nose. We’ll also monitor your breathing pattern with a belt around your upper abdomen. None of this should interfere with your natural breathing.
  • About 30 days and 60 days later, participants will be called and asked about their drug use over the past 30 days.

For more details, call NIH Clinical Center Office of Patient Recruitment at 1-800-411-1222.

Is a NIDA Healthy Control Research Study an Option for Me?

Answer a few questions to see if you qualify for an in-person screening appointment.

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