Drinking and driving
effects of stress on addiction


Our program of research focuses broadly on psychological and neural mechanisms that are involved in risk, prevention, and intervention for patients with alcohol and other drug (AOD) use disorders. We use both non-clinical (recreational AOD users with no history of problems) and clinical (patients with AOD use disorders) samples. We regularly employ psychophysiological measures and pharmacological manipulations in the laboratory. More recently, we have marshaled the power of mobile technologies to monitor participants’ subjective experience, behavior, social interactions, and physiology during their day-to-day activities in their natural environment. Our research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIAAA, NIDA, NCI and NIMH) continuously since 1998.

There are two broad aims of our program of research:

  • The first aim focuses on the role of stress circuits in the brain in the etiology and treatment of addiction. We have developed sensitive, translational (animal-to-human) psychophysiological assays to index activity in these stress circuits. We are using pharmacological manipulations to document adaptations in stress reactivity and to probe the neural mechanisms responsible for these adaptions following acute or chronic AOD use. We are using these same methods to examine the potential to repurpose existing pharmacotherapies to treat AOD use disorders.
  • The second, more recent aim focuses on the use of emerging mobile technologies to monitor and support alcohol or drug dependent patients following treatment. We are actively collaborating with colleagues in engineering and computer science to use machine learning approaches to develop dynamic, real-time relapse risk prediction models to optimize patients’ alcohol or drug abstinence efforts.

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