Designer Drugs: A New Look at Some Old (and Not So Old) Drugs

Panelists discuss new medical applications for common drugs of abuse. “Club Drugs” including nitrous oxide, ketamine, and MDMA are seeing increasing use by medical doctors as treatments for conditions like depression and PTSD, despite not being approved for such use by the FDA. The panelists talk about the abuse of these drugs and their research into new, legitimate uses.

Ketamine, widely used legally as an anesthetic and illegally in club settings is emerging as a potential new treatment for some types of depression. Dr. Gerard Sanacora—Professor of Psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine—shares his research on ketamine and its uses in treating depression.

Dental patients are familiar with nitrous oxide, popularly known as “laughing gas.” Dr. Charles Conway—Professor of Psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis—discusses his research on nitrous oxide and its potential as a treatment for depression.

Dr. Jean Lud Cadet—Chief of the Molecular Neuropsychiatry Research Branch and Associate Director for Diversity and Outreach at the Intramural Research Program of NIDA—discusses the potential use and abuse of MDMA, methamphetamine, and other drugs for PTSD and other psychiatric diatheses.


  • Mark S. Gold, MD (Moderator)
    Chairman of Rivermend Health’s Scientific Advisory Boards
  • Gerard Sanacora, PhD, MD
    Professor of Psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine; Director, Yale Depression Research Program; Co-Director, Yale New Haven Hospital Interventional Psychiatry Service
    Topic: “Ketamine for Depression”
  • Charles Conway, MD
    Professor of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis
    Topic: “Laughing Gas and Other Drugs of Abuse Used As Treatments for Depression”
  • Jean Lud Cadet, MD
    Chief of the Molecular Neuropsychiatry Research Branch and Associate Director for Diversity and Outreach at the Intramural Research Program (IRP) of NIDA
    Topic: “Potential use and abuse of MDMA, Methamphetamine, and other drugs for PTSD and other psychiatric diatheses”

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A New Look at Old and Not So Old Drugs: A 2018 Update on Cocaine

With Cocaine on the comeback trail, four researchers provide updates on this re-emerging issue.

  • Mark S. Gold, MD, Chairman of Rivermend Health’s Scientific Advisory Boards, Moderator, and CDC and Coroners Death Records for Cocaine
  • Leah Bloomenstein, DEA (Domestic Intel),  Current Intelligence on Cocaine
  • Jean Lud Cadet, MD, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Cocaine Changes the Brain and Damages It
  • Tom Kosten, MD, Baylor College of Medicine, Treatment for Cocaine OD or Addictions?

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A New Look at Old and Not So Old Drugs: A 2017 Update on Marijuana Research

October 5, 2017

Moderated by Robert DuPont, M.D.

With Marijuana in the news–both with state-level legalization efforts and research on its effects on the body and brain–four renowned international researchers provide updates on these issues.

  • Bertha Madras, Ph.D. Professor Harvard Medical School & former Deputy Director for Demand Reduction, ONDCP
    “Marijuana’s risks for the adolescent brain and development”
  • Arpana Agrawal, Ph.D., Psychiatric Genetics Consortium & Associate Professor, Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis
    “Marijuana exposure in young people increases risks of schizophrenia, depression & anhedonia”
  • Adriaan Bruijnzeel, Ph.D., Associate Professor UFBI
    “Original brain studies prove second hand Marijuana, like tobacco smoke, is addicting”
  • Robert DuPont, M.D., Founding Director, NIDA and former Drug Czar
    “Second hand effects of Marijuana smoke in life”

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Why We Fight: Perspectives on the History of Drug Law Enforcement

April 27, 2017

Retired DEA Special Agent Jeff Stamm, former Special Agent in Charge of the Aviation Division, retired after 31 years with DEA. He is an amateur historian of America’s drug enforcement experiences beginning with the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914. Stamm provides his perspectives on the nation’s current global efforts to control the use and trafficking of illegal drugs.

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The Heroin Epidemic: Then and Now – Lessons Learned

March 22, 2016

Former DEA Administrator Peter Bensinger and former National Institute on Drug Abuse Director Robert DuPont, MD, outline the steps taken during the late 1970s to reduce the supply of heroin in the United States. The goal of these efforts was to reduce the number of heroin users and overdose deaths by increasing heroin price and reducing heroin purity. Bensinger discusses two major heroin initiatives, Operation Heroin B and Operation Trizo. Dr. DuPont highlights the crucial role of DEA and law enforcement in a public health approach to the heroin epidemic and lessons learned from the 1970s heroin epidemic.

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Opiate Misuse, Overdose, & Addiction: Causes & Solutions

November 17, 2015

Opiate addiction along with pain management combined with substance use disorders is a growing concern. Dr. Theodore J. Cicero, Professor of Psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis speaks on The Opiate Overdose & Addiction Epidemic. Dr. William S. Jacobs, Chief of Addiction Medicine at the Medical College of Georgia & Medical Director of the Bluff Plantation, speaks on The Role of Pain, Pain Medicine, and Physicians in Treatment of Pain and Substance Use Disorders (SUDs).

Dr. Mark Gold, best known for his work on the brain systems underlying the effects of drugs, moderates the discussion. Gold is a distinguished alumnus of Washington University, University of Florida, and Yale University; Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Boards for RiverMend Health; and Director of Research and Prevention for the DEA Educational Foundation.

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The DEA Forensics Labs: Then and Now

October 22, 2015

DEA’s ability to arrest and prosecute drug traffickers relies on teamwork. One important part of this team is DEA’s Forensic Science Laboratories around the country. Museum Director Sean Fearns visits DEA’s Special Testing Laboratory and finds out how DEA forensic science has evolved from its beginnings many years ago, to the current cutting-edge science and technology it uses today.

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Operation Tiger Trap: The Rise and Fall of Khun Sa & The Drug Trade in Southeast Asia

June 25, 2015

Retired DEA Country Attaché John Whalen discusses narcotics trafficker Khun Sa and DEA’s Operation Tiger Trap. His presentation covers Khun Sa’s rise to power, his eventual fall, and how Operation Tiger Trap facilitated his demise. Whalen also discusses how Khun Sa’s surrender to the Burmese government created a vacuum that has been filled by other armed narcotics trafficking groups who continue to operate in Burma.

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A Look Behind the Curtain: The History of DEA’s Special Operations Division

April 22, 2015

Operations Adam Bomb, Crystal Light, One-Eyed Mule & Angry Pirate – these are just a few of the many drug interdictions overseen by DEA’s Special Operations Division (SOD). Panelists Michael Horn, former DEA Chief of International Operations; Joseph Keefe, former DEA Chief of Operations; Robert Nieves, former DEA Chief of International Operations; and John Wallace, former DEA Chief Counsel for International Law & Intelligence discuss the history of SOD. DEA Acting Chief of Congressional and Public Affairs Gary Owen moderates the discussion.

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Targeting the Mafia: FBN, Organized Crime, and Drugs

Federal Drug Law Enforcement 100 Year Centennial 1914-2014November 6, 2014

In the first half of the 20th century, the Mafia as a criminal organization was not yet into drugs. Following the end of World War II, Mafia members in New York City joined the heroin trade, eventually doing business with European drug sources from the infamous “Unione Corse” and “French Connection.” Narcotic Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) kept close tabs on them and regularly compiled intelligence reports that helped produce numerous arrests and convictions. In later years, this extensive intelligence on these old Mafia family ties and associations proved invaluable. Former FBN Narcotic Agent and Retired DEA Assistant Administrator for Operations John J. Coleman, PhD, discusses FBN, organized crime, and drugs in the 1960s.

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