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FAAR Extends Division Contract to Conduct CARS National Pilot

The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility (FAAR; formerly the Century Council) has extended its contract with the Division on Addiction for two years. During this extension, we will collaborate to pilot the Computerized Assessment and Referral System (CARS) on a national scale. CARS is a software package that includes a mental health screener that generates immediate, personalized clinical reports to detect mental health problems in individuals who struggle with addiction. During the past two years, we have conducted usability trials of CARS and a randomized controlled trial comparing three versions of CARS against intake as usual at DUI programs in Massachusetts:

  • CARS ScreenerA comprehensive mental health screener specifically constructed and modified during our trials to be able to stand alone as a screener for programs without the time or resources to conduct Full CARS;

  • Self-Administered CARS Screener―Identical content to the CARS Screener, but modified for self-administration by clients;

  • Full CARS―The comprehensive mental health screener, as well as modules devoted to further evaluation of mental health disorders and factors related to DUI recidivism.

The national pilot will begin with five programs from across the U.S. to serve as the initial CARS pilot sites. Site selection will begin during Spring 2016.

NARCH Grant from NIH/IHS

"Promoting Cultures of Recovery in Tribal Communities," PIs: Debi LaPlante, PhD, Sarah Nelson, PhD, and Martina Whelshula, PhD

The Healing Lodge of the Seven Nations (HL), a youth residential chemical dependency treatment center, serves youth from seven tribal nations (from Idaho: Coeur d'Alene Tribe, Kootenai Tribe and the Nez Perce Tribe; from Washington: The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, Kalispel Tribe of Indians, and the Spokane Tribe of Indians; and from Oregon, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation) and beyond. Recognizing the lack of programmatic research regarding best practices for supporting adolescents' recovery within tribal nations, HL has developed a research partnership with the Division on Addiction, Cambridge Health Alliance, a Harvard Medical School Teaching Hospital (DOA). This partnership is the Center for Indigenous Research, Collaboration, Learning, and Excellence (CIRCLE). CIRCLE is excited to announce that it received an NIH/IHS Native American Research Center for Health Award (NARCH). This CIRCLE-NARCH program, using a Tribal Participatory Research (TPR) approach, will address gaps in knowledge related to key components of sustainable recovery environments in tribal nations by conducting a multi-site strengths and needs assessment study of the seven nations' tribal recovery environment.

NARCH Working Group meeting 10-23-2015

Multi-Year Grant with the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility (FAAR; Formerly The Century Council) to Reduce Repeat DUI by Developing a Computerized Assessment and Referral System (CARS)

New research has identified that repeat DUI offenders often suffer from a number of psychiatric disorders (e.g., Shaffer et al., 2007), suggesting that untreated mental health issues contribute to the persisting rate of DUI. To combat this pressing public health problem and to build a foundation for expanded treatment, the Division of Addiction, with support from FAAR, has begun work to develop and test a computerized clinical report generator tool, the Computerized Assessment and Referral System (CARS), for use in DUI intervention and treatment settings. CARS will package a powerful mental health assessment tool, the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI: Kessler & Ustun, 2004) with a user-friendly interface, increased flexibility, and immediate personalized output, to create a tool that can be used easily by DUI facility staff to screen DUI offenders and target interventions to address comorbid mental health issues. Dr. Ronald Kessler, Professor of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School, co-director of the World Health Organizationís World Mental Health Surveys, and an original developer of the CIDI, and his team are collaborating with the Division on the development of CARS.

Shaffer, H. J., Nelson, S. E., LaPlante, D. A., LaBrie, R. A., Albanese, M., & Caro, G. (2007). The epidemiology of psychiatric disorders among repeat DUI offenders accepting a treatment sentencing option. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 75(5), 795-804.

Kessler, R. C., & Ustun, T. B. (2004). The World Mental Health (WMH) Survey Initiative version of the World Health Organization (WHO) Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI). International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research, 13(2), 93-121.

For the original press release, click here.

Extending the RENO Model: Clinical and ethical applications


The RENO Model, first published during 2004, described a science-based framework of responsible gambling principles for a range of industry operators, health service providers, community and consumer groups, and governments. These strategic principles serve as a guide for the adoption and implementation of responsible gambling and harm-minimization initiatives. This article extends the RENO Model core principles by describing how to apply these strategies to clinical practice. This discussion examines the central tenets of the model and includes a review of (a) the ethical principles that should guide the development, implementation, and practice of RENO Model responsible gambling activities; (b) a brief consideration of the various perspectives that influence the treatment of gambling-related problems; and (c) a discussion of key applied elements of responsible gambling programs. This article advances the argument that, to maximize positive outcomes and to avoid unintended harms, clinicians should apply science-based principles to rigorously evaluate the efficacy and impact of their clinical practice activities. Click here to visit the Library & Archives page.

Shaffer, H. J., Ladouceur, R., Blaszczynski, A., & Whyte, K. (In Press). Extending the RENO model: Clinical and ethical applications. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, Online First. doi: 10/1037/ort0000123 (Password Protected)


March 8, 2016 is Gambling Disorder Screening Day!


We are pleased to announce the third annual Gambling Disorder Screening Day will be March 8, 2016. We encourage everyone to go through our screening day hosting toolkit that (1) explains Gambling Disorder; (2) describes why screening is important; (3) provides a brief screen, the Brief Biosocial Gambling Screen (BBGS); and (4) lists a wide variety of gambling resource and referral information, and consider becoming a host. If you would like to become a host or have any questions, please contact us. Several organizations already have identified themselves as hosts or supporters for this year's Gambling Disorder Screening Day on March 8, 2016. We are looking for more organizations to host screening events and help spread the word about screening for gambling-related problems.


The Division is Hiring a Technical Research Coordinator!


The Division on Addiction is looking for a Technical Research Coordinator to join our team. To find out more about this positions, please go to our Opportunities page.

CHARGE Faculty to Present Webinar on March 8


Dr. Debi A. LaPlante will present a webinar on March 8 in recognition of Problem Gambling Awareness Month hosted by the National Center for Responsible Gaming. The webinar will focus on brief screening for gambling disorders, highlighting the Brief Biosocial Gambling Screen. The webinar also will focus on Gambling Disorder Screening Day. Harvard Medical School faculty at the Division on Addiction have proposed a new understanding of addiction. The syndrome model suggests that addiction has a common etiology with multiple expressions that range from substance-use disorders to behavioral disorders. Registration information will be available soon.

Division Faculty to Present on CARS at Traffic Court Seminar in March


Dr. Sarah Nelson will present "Computerized Assessment and Referral System (CARS): Screening for Mental Health Issues among DUI Offenders" to judges, judicial officers, prosecutors and defense attorneys during a Traffic Court Seminar, March 16-18, 2016. CARS allows lay people, criminal justice practitioners, program administrators, and more to perform a diagnostic evaluation. Such evaluations inform integrated planning, case management, and treatment decisions. This session will discuss the need for, development of, and the current status of CARS. Dr. Nelson will also present the latest findings from a randomized study of CARS. For more information on this event, click here.

NEW! Online Research Methods 101 for the Provider


In this interactive course hosted by Dr. Sarah Nelson and Harvard Medical School, participating physicians will learn how to:

  • Review medical literature and identify the results and take-home points of the study

  • Identify the criteria to consider when critically evaluating empirical research

  • Identify critical components and potential pitfalls of research designs

  • Share and/or discuss research findings with patients/clients

  • Determine the appropriate research design for a given research question

  • Identify first steps to become actively involved in conducting research

For more information on this course, click here.


Remembering Dr. Richard LaBrie



The Division is sad to announce that longtime friend and colleague, Dr. Richard LaBrie, died December 31, 2014. We remember Richard fondly for his quick wit, statistical prowess, and keen intelligence. Richard was an essential member of the Division's family, and we will feel his absence for years to come..


The LaBrie family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Richard's name to the Division on Addiction. Donations may be made online by listing Richard's name under the Tribute Information section. Donations may be sent by mail with a check payable to CHA Foundation with Richard's name in the memo and mailed to the Division on Addiction, 101 Station Landing, Suite 2100, Medford, MA 02155.




Recruitment Opportunities for Studies


Click here for more information about a smoking cessation study, as well as studies for veterans.

© Division on Addiction. All Rights Reserved. Last Updated:  February 11, 2016