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By Harry Henderson

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Department of Health and Human Services. It retained its major program areas, while the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) were transferred to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). However, the National Research Council has recommended that these two organizations be merged. OTHER FEDERAL LAWS In addition to the legislation already discussed, a number of important federal laws that have a relationship to the war on drugs have been passed since the 1970s.

Most heroin addicts, for example, have been male. However, the appearance of crack cocaine starting in the mid-1980s brought many more women into the drug world, including young, pregnant women. Many stories began to appear about “crack babies” born with severe impairments. 31 Drug Abuse Exposure to powerful drugs does have a serious impact on infant mortality, including low birth weight, developmental disabilities, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Use of crack cocaine has declined somewhat since the 1990s, but a 2001 study by the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that much of the damage previously attributed to cocaine use may in fact be attributable to alcohol or tobacco that was also used by the mothers in question.

For more subtle and less known reasons, the effectiveness of the drug in creating its effects and in reinforcing drug-taking behavior also varies. Although specific genes have not yet been identified, it seems clear that there is a genetic component in disposition to drug use and addiction. Studies have shown that even when children of alcoholic parents are adopted and raised by nonalcoholic caregivers, these children remain at higher risk of becoming addicted to alcohol in later life. Addiction is also strongly influenced by the social and physical setting in which drugs are taken.

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