The first of many anniversary posts

birthday cake with candles

Credit: Joey Gannon


Last July—specifically, last July 29, exactly one year ago—we launched IRETA Blog.  Even as we published our first post, we weren’t entirely sure what our blog would become.

Our director at IRETA, Dr. Peter Luongo, is ever-practical.  “Be useful,” he tells us.

So we aim to do that: to be useful to health and human services professionals, useful to our local community here in western Pennsylvania, and useful to individuals and families seeking accurate information about substance use and addiction.

In that spirit, for our new blog, we narrowed our goals to two: professional development and public outreach.  That is, 1) helping people do their jobs better and 2) helping expand the conversation about addiction and substance use.

Everything else, we played by ear.

Now, one year, almost 10,000 views and 500 followers later, we’re still playing by ear.  It seems to work.


To celebrate our birthday, we’re showing you the top five posts of the last year and asking you to vote.  Tell us: which one did you like best?  And if you have an extra moment, tell us why.

And if you have two extra moments, tell us what else you’d like to see on the Institute Blog.

What matters to you related to substance use and addiction?  What have you been scratching your head about?  Or—if you’re like me—what have you been talking  incessantly about, what are you excited about?

The following (in no particular order) are the five most popular posts of the last year.

IRETA’s New Grants Spur SBIRT Advancement

Published: October 12, 2012

September 2012 was a big month at IRETA.  We were awarded the National SBIRT Addiction Technology Transfer Center grant from SAMHSA and we received funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for several projects with the University of Pittsburgh.  This post outlined our plans as a newly-minted national SBIRT focus center and summed up our HRSA-funded work doing SBIRT training for emergency department registered nurses, anesthesiology and dental students, and a rural interprofessional collaborative.

Just in Time for Brain Awareness Week

Published:  March 13, 2013

In March, the Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking (ICCPUD) held such an excellent webinar on adolescent brain research that we were compelled to post about it.  Dr. Vivian Faden of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) discussed SBIRT for adolescents as “scaffolding,” or protective cover against risky substance use.  And NIAAA’s Dr. Aaron White gave a truly enthralling explanation of effects of substance use on the prefrontal cortex, the hippocampus, and the reward system, as well as patterns in white and grey matter production as correlated with age.

Marijuana and Teens: a complex and risky relationship

Published: January 14, 2013

Dr. Dawn Lindsay discussed research on adolescent brain development showing, confoundingly, that:

  1. Teen brains are not designed to recognize long-term consequences, which are primarily the sort that accompany marijuana use
  2. Teen brains are particularly sensitive to the short- and long-term effects of marijuana

In light of this risky combination, and as a parent herself, Dr. Lindsay offered sensible advice and resources for parents.

2012 National Prevention Network Conference and Recovery Sports Link

Published: September 27, 2012

In September 2012, IRETA co-sponsored and hosted the 25th annual National Prevention Network (NPN) Research Conference and, in conjunction, we hosted our 9th annual Recovery Sports Link Baseball Game at PNC Park.  NPN Conference attendees, IRETA staff, professionals in the addiction field, and individuals in recovery attended the event to celebrate National Recovery Month and the personal battles of those struggling with and overcoming addiction.

What New Recovery Research is Teaching Us

Published: May 3, 2013

In April 2013, Faces and Voices of Recovery (FAVOR) released results of a first-of-its-kind nationwide survey that quantified the long-term effects of recovery.   This post discussed the implications of these findings and the general dearth of research on the recovery experience.

And tell us in the comment section:

Which did you like best?

What did you like about the one you chose?

What else would you like to see on IRETA Blog?


Blogging has been a wonderful way to weave together research, best practices, and personal perspectives.   We’re certainly looking forward to another year of it.  And it’s especially gratifying to hear your responses in the comment section or via email.  So please, don’t ever hesitate.

Thanks for reading and subscribing.