Addiction Treatment Services (ATS) - Research

Director: Denis Antoine, M.D.

Overview of Research Interests

ATS has a strong practical commitment to treatment research based on two simple ideas: (1) clinical work meaningfully informs research; and (2) research informed by clinical work improves the quality of patient care and outcome. Faculty is extensively involved in the conduct and dissemination of research on a wide range of topics related to the evaluation and treatment of substance use disorder. They include:          

Psychiatric comorbidity
This work includes studies on the prevalence of psychiatric comorbidity and trauma exposure in people with substance use disorder and its relationships with scope and severity of substance use and other psychiatric problems, risk of transmitting HIV and other blood-borne diseases to self and others, and clinical course and outcome. Studies also focus on the development of specialized psychiatric interventions and both integrated and novel service delivery models. 

Combination and innovative treatment approaches
These studies are designed to improve the scope and outcome of substance abuse treatment with combination treatments linking the use of medications with other therapies shown to help patients manage the problems of substance abuse. Studies are done to improve the integration and organization of combination treatment plans, and develop and test adaptive stepped-care treatment approaches. A critical and unavoidable aspect of this work involves efforts to improve patient attendance to prescribed therapies. Poor patient adherence is a common problem and a leading cause of partial and poor treatment response. This area of work has resulted in the development of an adaptive treatment model that is nationally recognized as innovative and effective. Lessons from this work are being used to develop more effective ways to motivate people to seek help. Most people with substance use problems are not receiving treatment, even when the service is available.

Reducing unemployment
Improving the effectiveness of substance abuse treatment conveys numerous benefits to patients and others, but it often does not resolve chronic unemployment. The majority of patients in substance abuse treatment programs remain unemployed despite significant reductions in drug use and stabilization of other psychiatric problems. Studies are focusing on ways to increase employment and understand how it consistently improves drug abuse treatment response.

Cost comparisons and benefits of substance abuse treatment
This is a growing and productive area of research in the program. Cost evaluations of substance abuse treatments are critically important to addressing feasibility and sustainability of new services and services delivery models.