Methods

The range of methods employed by scientists studying substance abuse is as wide as the range of methods in all the biological and social sciences. One important method is the use of animal models of behavior to answer many of the questions raised by drug and alcohol use. Animal models are used in biomedical research in virtually every field, but the discovery that animals will, for the most part, self-administer alcohol and the same drugs of abuse that humans do, meant that there was a great potential for behavioral research uncontaminated by many of the difficult-to-control social components of human research. The results of animal studies have been verified repeatedly in human research and in clinical observation, thus validating this animal model of human drug-seeking behavior.

Research Personnel. Drug- and alcohol-abuse research is conducted by many different types of qualified professionals, but mostly by medical researchers (MDs) and people with advanced degrees (PhDs) in the previously mentioned sciences. They work with animals and with patients in university and federally funded laboratories, as well as in privately funded research facilities, in offices, and in clinical treatment centers. Other sites include hospitals, clinics, and sometimes schools, the streets, and even advertising agencies when prevention research is under way.

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