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Grant from Massachusetts Gaming Commission via The Commonwealth of Massachusetts

“Assessing Responsible Gambling in Massachusetts,” PIs: Debi LaPlante, PhD, and Howard Shaffer, PhD, CAS

Responsible gambling activities are those that prevent the incidence and reduce the prevalence of gambling-related problems, diversely defined, among various target population segments. We will conduct a series of studies that will assess the adoption and long-term use of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission’s proposed gambling commitment tools and responsible gambling programs and resources within Massachusetts’ slot parlor and casinos. Assessment activities will include studies focused upon gambling commitment tools (i.e., Play Management), Self-exclusion, and GameSense-branded information centers. The outcomes of these evaluations will allow the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to use scientific evidence to make decisions about sustaining, revising, or removing its responsible gambling approaches and tool-based requirements.

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 Organization’s 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.

A prospective study of psychiatric comorbidity and recidivism among repeat DUI offenders


In tandem with nationwide awareness and prevention campaigns, driving under the influence (DUI) behavior and consequences, like motor vehicle fatalities, have decreased significantly during the past several decades. However, alcohol-impaired driving still accounts for more than 30% of motor vehicle fatalities and rates of DUI no longer appear to be decreasing. Repeat DUI offenders, those who are convicted of DUI more than once, account for a disproportionate amount of DUI related harm. These offenders have much higher rates of psychiatric disorders than the general population, and it is possible that these disorders contribute to their DUI behavior and reduce the impact of intervention campaigns. The current article examines whether repeat DUI offenders with certain psychiatric disorders are more likely to reoffend than others. The authors assessed psychiatric disorders among 743 repeat DUI offenders upon admission to a DUI treatment program and then tracked their criminal record for 5 years. Offenders with certain patterns of psychiatric disorders were more likely than other offenders to commit a criminal offense during the 5-year follow-up. In addition, offenders with attention deficit disorder were specifically more likely to commit motor vehicle-related offenses during the 5-year follow-up. These findings suggest that for many repeat offenders, DUI is one outlet in a constellation of criminal behavior, and that psychiatric disorders increase vulnerability for criminal re-offense. Click here to visit the Library & Archives page.

Nelson, S. E., Belkin, K., LaPlante, D. A., Bosworth, L., & Shaffer, H. J. (2015). A prospective study of psychiatric comorbidity and recidivism among repeat DUI offenders. Archives of Scientific Psychology, 3(1), 8-17. doi: 10.1037/arc0000009 (Password Protected)

Using Opinions and Knowledge to Identify Natural Groups of Gambling Employees


Gaming industry employees are at higher risk than the general population for health conditions including gambling disorder. Responsible gambling training programs, which train employees about gambling and gambling-related problems, might be a point of intervention. However, such programs tend to use a ..one-size-fits-all.. approach rather than multiple tiers of instruction. We surveyed employees of one Las Vegas casino (n = 217) and one online gambling operator (n = 178) regarding their gambling-related knowledge and opinions prior to responsible gambling training, to examine the presence of natural knowledge groups among recently hired employees. Using k-means cluster analysis, we observed four natural groups within the Las Vegas casino sample and two natural groups within the online operator sample. We describe these natural groups in terms of opinion/knowledge differences as well as distributions of demographic/occupational characteristics. Gender and language spoken at home were correlates of cluster group membership among the sample of Las Vegas casino employees, but we did not identify demographic or occupational correlates of cluster group membership among the online gambling operator employees. Gambling operators should develop more sophisticated training programs that include instruction that targets different natural knowledge groups. Click here to visit the Library & Archives page.

Gray, H. M., Tom, M., LaPlante, D. A., & Shaffer, H. J. (2015). Using opinions and knowledge to identify natural groups of gambling employees. Journal of Gambling Studies, Online First. doi: 10.1007/s10899-014-9490-1 (Password Protected)

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.

CARS Webinar


For this webinar, Dr. Sarah Nelson discussed the Computerized Assessment and Referral System (CARS), a standardized mental health assessment developed by the Division on Addiction. CARS is adapted from the World Health Organization's Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI) and is used to identify the presence of mental health and substance use issues among DUI offenders. In addition, CARS generates referrals to services and interventions based on an individual's diagnostic information and zip code.

This webinar is designed for a criminal justice audience that is interested in exploring ways to better assess the DUI offender population. It will discuss the need for, development of, and current implementation of this cost-effective assessment tool that allows a non-trained clinician, criminal justice practitioner, or program administrator to perform a diagnostic evaluation to inform integrated planning, case management, and treatment decisions. The webinar is available for download at http://www.americanbar.org/content/ebus/events/ce/facultypreview/ce1509car.html

Online Gambling Podcast


Dr. Sarah Nelson discussed the latest in online gambling research on the Gambling Issues Podcast.


"You'll hear about how Dr. Nelson got into researching online gambling, the assumption about online gambling that was contradicted in her studies, what her research finds as predictive of online problem gambling, her recommendations for someone gambling online, and what she sees as the future of online gambling." The podcast is available at http://gamblingissuespodcast.com/episode-7-dr-sarah-e-nelson-online-gambling/.



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:  July 13, 2015