Nicole Lewellyn Schramm-Sapyta
Assistant Professor of the Practice in Duke Institute for Brain Sciences

Drug Addiction is a complex disease with genetic, psychological, and societal causes and consequences.  We know that some people can take drugs recreationally for years, while others quickly fall victim to addiction.  What causes this distinction?  And, how can we help those who suffer from addiction?  I have worked in rodent models for many years, examining the neurobiological bases of vulnerability.  I have shown that adolescence is one factor in determining vulnerability:  adolescent drug takers are less susceptible to the negative (use-limiting) effects of drugs of abuse, such as hangover.  Furthermore, adolescents are, in some cases, more susceptible to the rewarding effects (such as the “high”).  However, the most vulnerable adolescents are those who have underlying psychopathology, such as anxiety and depression.  More recently, I have become interested in the goal of eliminating the stigma attached to addiction and the addicts themselves.  Through education and outreach, everyone can understand that no one takes drugs with the intention of becoming an addict, and that the currently available treatments can go a long way to improving the lives of addicts, if only they and their families will seek help.  

Current Appointments & Affiliations

Contact Information

  • 308 Research Dr Room M055, Box 91003, Durham, NC 27708
  • 308 Research Dr Room M055, Box 91003, Durham, NC 27708

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