Center for Addiction Medicine

MGH Ceneter for Addiction Medicine researchersThe work of the Center is carried out through clinical trials that investigate causes of substance use disorders and novel treatments. The findings in these studies often affect the way treatment is delivered in actual healthcare environments. Information about the studies currently being conducted may be accessed through the list below.

Cannabis Users

Effect of Medical Marijuana on Neurocognition and Escalation of Use.

Principal Investigator: Jodi Gilman, Ph.D., 2016—2020

Study Reference: NIH/NIDA 5K01DA034093

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the effect of medical marijuana (MM) on a range of outcomes, including clinical symptoms, cognitive performance, brain function, and possible transition to cannabis use disorders (CUD) in adults who are interested in using medical marijuana to treat pain, insomnia, depression, or anxiety. We will conduct longitudinal assessments over 6 months that will: (1) characterize the impact of MM on progression to CUD and other indices of addiction, such as increased tolerance and withdrawal among those who stop using MM, (2) assess, via daily dosing diaries, the effect of MM-use patterns on the use of other medications and perception of underlying disease symptomatology, (3) characterize the impact of MM on neurocognitive performance, including executive functioning, memory, attention, and decision-making and (4) examine evidence for impact of MM on brain functioning in the prefrontal cortex and reward regions.

Cognition and Adolescent Health

Principal Investigator: Randi Schuster, Ph.D., 2015—2022

Study Reference: NIH/NIDA 1K23DA042946-02

The purpose of this study is to determine whether there is cognitive dysfunction in adolescent cannabis use that persists in the short term (4 days) after use but resolves with extended abstinence (30 days) compared to cannabis users who do not quit and non-using controls, as well as estimate the rate of cognitive improvement with cannabis abstinence as a function of time since last use and concentration of detectable cannabis metabolites in urine. This study will also examine whether genetic risk for ADHD and other psychiatric co-morbidities alters the rate of cognitive recovery with cannabis abstinence.

The Effect of Cannabis on Cognition and Neuroimaging in those with Major Depressive Disorder

Principal Investigator: Jodi Gilman, Ph.D., 2017-2018

Study Reference: NIH/NIDA K01DA034093-04

The prevalence of use of MJ among those with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is unknown, but MDD is the third most common reason for individuals to seek medical MJ, after pain and insomnia. It is therefore of critical importance to understand the effects of MJ use and MDD on brain function, particularly in young adults. In this neuroimaging study, we are investigating the neural correlates of emotion processing and neural activity in those with and without MDD and MJ use.

The Effect of Cannabis on Cognition and Neuroimaging in those with PTSD

Principal Investigator: Jodi Gilman, Ph.D., 2017-2018

Study Reference: NIH/NIDA K01DA034093-04

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has the highest lifetime prevalence of all anxiety disorders (8-9%), shows high rates of comorbidity with MDD, and is a critical predictor of suicidality. Increasingly, PTSD patients are seeking alternative treatments to current interventions, many of which have not been proven to be effective and may in fact be harmful. The most pressing example of this is the increased prevalence of medical marijuana (MM) use among PTSD patients. While it is possible that MM use temporarily alleviates PTSD symptoms, such as stress responses, flashbacks and recurring traumatic memories/dreams, more data is needed to ensure that MM does not lead to negative outcomes, such as addiction or cognitive side effects. In this neuroimaging study, we are investigating the neural correlates of emotion processing and neural activity in those with and without PTSD and MJ use.

Advancing a Novel, Portable Detection Method for Cannabis Intoxication

Principal Investigator(s): Jodi Gilman, Ph.D., A. Eden Evins, M.D., MPH, Melissa Maravic, Ph.D. 2017 —2018

Study Reference: NIH/NIDA R42DA043977-01

The goal of this project is to develop, test, and refine a method to accurately and reliably detect marijuana (MJ) impairment using a portable, user-friendly, non-invasive, brain-based modality. MJ doubles the chance of motor vehicle accidents, yet there now exists no valid, biologically based method to detect whether an individual is acutely impaired from MJ. The development of a reliable, quantitative biological marker that enables law enforcement officers to screen individuals whom they suspect are impaired from MJ will have highly significant public health importance and enormous commercial potential.

Tobacco Smokers

Integrated Smoking Cessation Treatment for Smokers with Serious Mental Illnesses

Principal Investigator: A. Eden Evins, M.D., MPH, 2016—2021

Study Reference: PCORI 1504-30472

The aim of this study is to assess the effectiveness of two practical approaches to improving the health of people with mental illness in the community. The project will test whether tailored education to primary care doctors alone or combined with community health workers will help those with mental illness quit smoking. More than 1,100 patients in 50 Boston area community health clinics will be involved. Bay Cove Human Services and Vinfen, two of the largest mental health service providers in the Commonwealth, will lead the clinical component of this study.

Integrated Behavioral Diabetes Management for Individuals with Serious Mental Illness

Principal Investigator(s): Kristina Cieslak, M.D., A. Eden Evins, M.D., MPH, 2016—2018

Study Reference: Executive Committee on Community Health (ECOCH) Community Health/Health Equity Grant

The goal of this project is to improve health outcomes for people with serious mental illness (SMI) and diabetes, a highly prevalent comorbidity that results in high levels of healthcare utilization and poor medical outcomes, including significant premature mortality. We have developed a 16-week tailored behavioral and educational group intervention for individuals with schizophrenia and diabetes, utilizing the concept of ‘reverse integrated care,’ bringing medical intervention into the community mental health setting.  Core features of this intervention include motivational interviewing, basic education, and problem solving.

Trial of Integrated Smoking Cessation, Exercise and Weight Management in SMI

Principal Investigator(s): Gail Daumit, M.D., A. Eden Evins, M.D., MPH 2014—2019

Study References: NIH/NIMH 5R01MH104553-04

This clinical trial will test the hypothesis that an 18-month CVD risk reduction program consisting of smoking cessation treatment and weight reduction and exercise will improve cardiovascular health in persons with serious mental illness.

Center to Accelerate Translation of Interventions to Decrease Premature Mortality in SMI

Principal Investigator: Gail Daumit, M.D. 2018—2022

Study References: NIH/NIMH 1 P50 MH115842-01

The Center will develop and test innovative strategies for scaling-up effective interventions to address cardiovascular risk behaviors (unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, tobacco smoking) and risk factors (obesity, hypertension, diabetes and dyslipidemia) among consumers with SMI.

Positive Psychology Smoking Cessation Smartphone App for Nondaily Smokers

Principal Investigator(s): Bettina Hoeppner, Ph.D., Susanne Hoeppner, Ph.D., Lourah Kelly, Ph.D., John F. Kelly, Ph.D. 2016—2021

Study Reference:  130323-RSG-17-021-01-CPPB

The goal of this project is to develop a smartphone app to support smoking cessation in nondaily smokers using a positive psychology approach.  A three-phase development process is proposed, using (1) in-depth feedback from n=30 on our already developed Version 1.0, (2) nation-wide pilot test of Version 2.0 (n=90), and (3) proof-of-concept RCT (n=226).

Alcohol and Mixed Drug Use

Pilot Study of a Transdiagnostic, Emotion-focused Group Intervention for Young Adults with Substance Use Disorder

Study Principal Investigator(s): Kate Bentley, Ph.D. 2018—2020

Training Grant Principal Investigator(s): A. Eden Evins, M.D., MPH & Nancy Rigotti, M.D.

Study Reference: NIH/NIDA 5K12DA043490 (Career Development Program)

The purpose of this pilot study is to examine the acceptability, feasibility, and preliminary efficacy of adding a transdiagnostic, emotion-focused, cognitive-behavioral group intervention to treatment as usual within a comprehensive outpatient addiction program for young adults (ages 18 to 26) with substance use disorder and co-occurring anxiety or depressive symptoms, suicidal ideation, or nonsuicidal self-injury. Participants (N = 50) are randomly assigned to receive the experimental group intervention plus treatment as usual or treatment as usual alone, and substance use (via timeline followback), anxiety and depressive symptoms, and emotion regulation indices are assessed at baseline and four and eight weeks after randomization.

The Impact of Medicaid Plans on Access to and Quality of SUD Treatment

Principal Investigator: Margarita Alegria, Ph.D. 2018—2021

Study Reference: NIH/NIDA 1R01DA044526-01A1

This project makes use of random assignment methods to study the effects of the structure of state Medicaid programs on access, patterns of care and outcomes of substance use disorder (SUD) care. It conducts stratified analysis by race/ethnicity, gender, and rurality to identify which programs and plans have better outcomes and  if there are service disparities. It uses qualitative methods to help interpret results and suggest changes to policy and practice.

Expanding the Science on Recovery Mutual Aid for Alcohol Use Disorder: An Investigation of SMART Recovery

Principal Investigator: John F. Kelly, Ph.D. 2018—2023

Study Reference: NIH/NIDA 1R01AA026288-01

This five-year quasi-experimental prospective study is the first to investigate the clinical and public health utility of SMART Recovery by examining its effectiveness 1) as a recovery pathway and 2) in comparison to other mutual help organization participation.

Investigating Impulsivity and Social Network Changes as Novel Mechanisms of Behavior Change for Alcoholics Anonymous' (AA) Positive Effects

Principal Investigator: John F. Kelly, Ph.D. 2018-2023

Study Reference: 1R01AA025849-01A1

This five-year prospective quasi-experimental study systematically examines three facets of impulsivity and conducts egocentric social network analyses to test the mechanisms of behavioral change through which the mutual-help organization, Alcoholics Anonymous, confers benefits.

Vignette Study

Principal Investigator: John F. Kelly, Ph.D.

Privately Funded

This privately funded study looks at terminology and stigma, and how word choice may affect attitudes and perceptions.

Recovery Online

Principal Investigator: Brandon Bergman, Ph.D. 2018-2023

Study Reference: 1K23AA025707-01A1

In this 5-year,  research career development award, Dr. Bergman is examining the effects of a) participation in recovery-specific social network sites, and b) online and face-to-face peer interactions, on addiction treatment outcomes, among emerging adults (18-29 years) with alcohol use disorder.