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Drug abuse researchers and service providers have markedly different professional vocabularies and points of view. To cite just a few examples: Researchers focus on outcomes, while treatment providers promote recovery; clinicians work one-on-one to make a difference for individual patients, while researchers tend to compare the experiences of groups, looking for widely applicable insights into drug abuse and its treatment; the time frame in the clinic is as immediate as human emotion or personal emergency, while research—of necessity—moves painstakingly toward the goal of advancing human understanding to realize future improvements.
Despite their different perspectives, what unites drug abuse researchers and practitioners is much stronger than what separates them. In NIDA’s National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network (CTN), we have clearly seen that scientists and practitioners are eager and able to combine their efforts to achieve the common goal of reducing drug abuse and the damage it wreaks. Although CTN is only 2 years old, its membership already includes 14 regional research centers and 93 community treatment programs. Scientists and treatment providers have agreed upon 12 specific research concepts and worked together to design 7 trial protocols that meet clinics’ need for economical operations and researchers’ needs for rigorous data.
Rich interprofessional exchanges and collaborations, such as those taking place in CTN and elsewhere, are essential to improving the effectiveness of drug abuse treatment and prevention to the greatest degree and at the most rapid pace. Toward that end, Science & Practice Perspectives will play an important role by helping scientists and service providers share information and provide mutual inspiration.