Center for Addiction Medicine

Active Studies

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. To inquire about participating, please see the list below, organized by category. Use the contact information provided for the study in which you’re interested.

Cannabis Studies

Effect of Medical Marijuana on Neurocognition and Escalation of Use

Principal Investigator: Jodi Gilman, Ph.D., 2016—2024

Study Reference: 5R01DA042043-05

This study used a randomized controlled trial design to test whether medical marijuana patients experience unintended negative consequences from medical marijuana use such as progression to addiction, neurocognitive impairments, and brain-based changes. The resulting data will inform clinicians, scientists, and policymakers about unforeseen effects and potential outcomes of medical marijuana policies.

Evaluation of Cannabidiol for Reduction of Brain Neuroinflammation

Principal Investigator(s): Jodi Gilman, Ph.D., Marco Loggia, Ph.D., 2021—2026

Study Reference: NIH R01DA053316

Treatment for chronic pain is largely ineffective, likely due to a lack of viable targets. Cannabinoids, particularly cannabidiol (CBD), are among the therapeutics attracting attention for their potential pain applications. In this project, we will use PET/MR imaging to image glial activation in patients with chronic low back pain (cLBP), and investigate whether CBD, compared to placebo, reduces pain- and depression-related neuroinflammation in cLBP. This will be the first study to test potential effects of CBD on neuroinflammation and striatal physiology in pain patients, and could help reconcile the conflicting findings regarding the efficacy of cannabinoids in pain conditions.

This study is currently recruiting participants. Visit or call (617) 724-0382 to see if you are eligible.

Contingency Management for Six Months of Cannabis Abstinence among Adolescents

Principal Investigator(s): Randi Schuster, Ph.D., 2019—2022

Study Reference: ECOR

This pilot study will examine whether cognitive change over six months of cannabis abstinence is associated with improved real-world academic performance and brain functioning in adolescents.

This study is currently recruiting participants. Visit or call (617) 643-3575 to see if you are eligible.

Interrupting Developmental Pathways to Schizophrenia: Protecting Youth at Risk for Cannabis Use and Psychosis

Principal InvestigatorRandi Schuster, Ph.D., 2019—2022

Study Reference: Neuroscience and MGH Research Institute Scientific Projects to Accelerate Research and Collaboration (SPARC) Award

The overall purpose of this program is to identify adolescents who are at risk for cannabis-induced psychosis, as evidenced by endorsement of mild-to-moderate, sub-syndromal symptoms, and provide them with a potentially preventive intervention aimed at enhancing resilience.

Real-Time Assessment of Substance Use

Principal Investigator: A. Eden Evins, M.D., MPH, Brenden Tervo-Clemmens, Ph.D., 2022—2024

Study Reference:

The purpose of this study is to learn more about teens’ day-to-day patterns of use of cannabis and alcohol. You must be between the ages of 15 and 20 to participate.

This study is currently recruiting participants. Visit or call (617) 643-4537 to see if you are eligible.

Tobacco Studies

Varenicline For Vaping Cessation in Non-Smoker Vaper Adolescents

Principal Investigator: A. Eden Evins, M.D., MPH, Randi Schuster, Ph.D., 2021—2024

Study Reference: NIDA; 1R01DA052583-01A1

Electronic cigarettes, initially marketed as a harm reduction product for tobacco smokers, have exploded in popularity amongst adolescents, renormalizing tobacco use in youth, causing nicotine dependence in nonsmoking adolescents, and increasing risk for tobacco smoking, other drug use, and direct negative health effects of vapor exposure. Amidst growing demand for adolescent vaping cessation interventions where no proven treatment exists, varenicline has shown promise for adolescent smoking cessation in randomized controlled trials and for vaping cessation in clinical care. This project will determine whether varenicline, the most effective treatment for addiction to smoked tobacco, is effective for vaping cessation in adolescents.

This study is currently recruiting participants. Visit or call (617) 643-7611 to see if you are eligible.

Alcohol and Mixed Drug Use Studies

Testing Scalable, Broad-Reach School-Based Brief Interventions for Alcohol Use

Principal Investigator(s): Randi Schuster, Ph.D., 2023 – 2028

Study Reference: AU-2022C1-26355

Massachusetts is the only state in the country that mandates annual Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) assessments in middle schools and high schools. SBIRT is a tool used to identify adolescents who may be using substances and connect them to support services and resources.

The purpose of this study is to learn how to optimize the delivery of SBIRT in a school-based environment. The study will be evaluating the effectiveness of using a nonclinical Youth Wellness Coach to conduct SBIRT screenings in schools across the state. The Youth Wellness Coaches will have lived experience with substance use conditions and will be representative of the community they are serving. Additionally, the study will be holding interviews with students, school staff, and Youth Wellness Coaches to gain insight into the current SBIRT model and possible areas for change.

Read more about our study:

School Screening for Substance Use and Related Risk Factors

Principal Investigator(s): Randi Schuster, Ph.D., 2015 – 2025

The school-wide assessment is a brief, longitudinal and epidemiological survey of youth substance use and mental health. The survey is administered with partnered middle and high schools across the state of Massachusetts each year. With the creation of a robust linking code we are able to link data across years to allow for the collection of long term survey data. The survey also aids in establishing a school-based recruitment pipeline used for other studies. 

Evaluation of Medical Cannabis and Prescription Opioid Taper Support for Reduction of Pain and Opioid Dose in Patients with Chronic Non-Cancer Pain

Principal Investigator: Jodi Gilman, Ph.D., 2021—2025

Study Reference: NIH R01DA051540-01A1

Controversy exists over the risk to benefit ratio of medical marijuana for adults with chronic non-cancer pain (CNCP) on chronic opioid therapy (COT). The primary goal of this proposal is to assess whether medical marijuana, when added to a behavioral prescription opioid taper support program, improves pain and reduces opioid dose in adults on COT for CNCP more so than the behavioral intervention alone. This information is critical to better inform patients and clinicians about the extent to which medical marijuana use may be beneficial or harmful to this patient population.

This study is currently recruiting participants. Visit or call (617) 643-4537 to see if you are eligible.

Evaluating the Effectiveness of a Drug Education and Diversion Program for Middle and High School Students

Principal Investigator(s)Randi Schuster, Ph.D., 2020—2024

Study Reference: INTF2400H78500224455 / 2300H78500224179

This is a randomized controlled trial evaluating the effectiveness of a new drug education and diversion program (iDECIDE) that will be implemented in 80+ middle and high schools across Massachusetts. iDECIDE, designed in collaboration between Massachusetts General Hospital, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and the Institute for Health and Recovery, aims to provide schools with a scalable, effective, and youth-centered tier two intervention that can be used as an alternative to punishment for school-based substance use infractions. Providing youth with science-based knowledge and skills, iDECIDE empowers young people to make decisions that align with their core values and future goals to support their own personal well-being.

Visit the iDECIDE website to learn more, or check out the iDECIDE Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram.

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.

Recovery Online

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

Study Reference: 1K23AA025707-01A1

Through a five-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.