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NARCH Grant from NIH/IHS

"Promoting Cultures of Recovery in Tribal Nations," Co-PIs: Debi LaPlante, Ph.D., Sarah Nelson, Ph.D., and Martina Whelshula, Ph.D.

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.

Grant from NCRG

"Risk & Resilience among Native American Youth in the Pacific Northwest," Co-PIs: Debi LaPlante, Ph.D., and Martina Whelshula, Ph.D.

Risky behaviors, such as alcohol and drug consumption, gambling, and violent or criminal activity, are a public health problem for youth across the United States (Eaton et al., 2010). Native American youth, especially, continue to be at elevated risk for some such harmful behaviors (Friese, Grube, Seninger, Paschall, & Moore, 2011), and little is known about their engagement in other behaviors (e.g., gambling). Consequently, it is important to continue to examine risky behavior among Native American youth. Likewise, it is equally important to pay as much attention to protective factors against risky behavior. Working with Native American tribes to gain information about risky behavior and protective factors will enable the development of programs that address these issues and maximize wellness. To gain information about areas of strength and those that require improvement, the proposed project will partner with The Healing Lodge of the Seven Nations (HL), a residential youth chemical dependency center that serves the Inland Tribal Consortium (ITC), to engage tribal youth in a mutually-developed brief risk and resilience assessment during planned community events. We have secured an agreement with HL and representatives from the four ITC tribes (the Colville Confederated Tribes, Umitilla Tribe, Kootenai Tribe, and the Kalispel Tribe) that will host youth community events during 2014. The assessment includes central risk behaviors (e.g., gambling, alcohol use, violence) and resilience factors (e.g., Native American enculturation and family connectedness) that have well-validated reliable brief assessments available.

Grant from The Tung Wah Group of Hospitals

"Clinical Research & Training Collaboration between the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals Integrated Center on Addiction Prevention and Treatment and the Division on Addiction, Cambridge Health Alliance, a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital," PI: Howard Shaffer, Ph.D., C.A.S.

The purpose of this project is to guide a multi-year evidence-based clinical research and training program located at the Integrated Center on Addiction Prevention and Treatment (ICAPT) in Hong Kong. We intend this program of activities to lead to enhanced treatment outcomes and provide the architecture for establishing ongoing clinical studies, including prospective longitudinal designs and randomized clinical trials. This architecture will provide the setting for future research activities at ICAPT as well as both clinical and research training. To this end, we will establish a training and development program that includes ethics, clinical, and research activities; this program will feature a “train the trainers” approach to multiply training experience effects. In addition to web based clinical and research training, selected Tung Wah staff will participate in the annual Harvard Medical School Continuing Medical Education live course in Addiction Medicine, offered by the Division on Addiction, and partake in the Division’s Continuing Medical Education Distance Learning courses, administered by Harvard Medical School.

Grant from OJJDP with the Cambridge Police Department

"Safety Net Collaborative Outcome Evaluation"

Katerina Belkin, B.A., Sarah Nelson, Ph.D., and Howard Shaffer, Ph.D., C.A.S.

The Cambridge Police Department (CPD) has set up a Safety Net Collaborative to promote mental health and limit youth involvement in the juvenile justice system through coordinated services for Cambridge youth and their families. Safety Net's diversion program targets first-time juvenile offenders and focuses on connecting them to the necessary services and programs to prevent recidivism. The Cambridge Department of Human Service Program assists the CPD in connecting kids in the program to five youth centers located throughout the city. Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) provides phone and in-person consultation, training, evaluation and treatment services as well as outreach with officers to schools and families. Diverted youth can seek treatment at CHA, or in other behavioral health settings. At its five-year juncture, the initiative needs clear measures of positive outcomes and a more specific plan for data collection and analysis. The Division on Addiction will work with the CPD's Community Relations Division to identify measurable predictor and outcome variables to look at whether involvement in the Safety Net program is linked to positive outcomes.

Grant from ABMRF: The Foundation for Alcohol Research

"The effect of tailoring a testimonial message on excessive drinking by personal relevance on implicit and explicit narrative persuasion," Co-PIs: Julia Braverman, Ph.D., and John Kleschinsky, M.P.H.

Research suggests that narrative persuasion (i.e., telling vivid stories to promote attitude change) might be an effective public health promotion technique. However, it is unclear whether making a narrative story more personally relevant increases its persuasiveness. This research program explores this possibility for excessive alcohol consumption. It is well known that alcohol abuse impairs various domains of life, e.g., health, social relationships, and career. The importance of these domains varies from person to person. Hence, some people are typically more concerned about their social relationships, whereas others pay more attention to their career, or health. We examine the effect of matching the message content to what individuals find most personally relevant with two experiments. For the first experiment, we will ask participants randomly assigned to read personally relevant, or not, stories about alcohol. We will determine whether matching personal relevance along three domains (relationships, career, or health) positively affects individuals’ psychological immersion into the story, alcohol related attitudes, and self-reported drinking. For the second experiment, we will use a priming technique to make a specific domain temporarily more salient (i.e., “activated”) to an individual. This will allow us to investigate if induced relevance to self can yield similarly positive alcohol-related health outcomes.

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.

Happy Holidays from The BASIS!



As the holiday season approaches, we’re reflecting on our efforts during the past year to make the latest discoveries in addiction research more accessible to a broad audience. We hope that you’ve benefited from the material we’ve posted this year, which included 13 editions each of ASHES, The DRAM, STASH, and The WAGER and over 20 editorials from noted researchers, treatment providers, industry and policy experts, and educators. We’d love to learn more about how you’ve used The BASIS in your own life! Please share your experiences by emailing us at basis@divisiononaddictions.org.

An exciting development this year was the addition of several Special Series-- month-long efforts to focus attention on how addiction intersects with topis like homelessness, interpersonal relationships, drugged driving, and technology. We also used our Special Series to explore how addiction impacts certain population groups, like college students, Native Americans, and combat veterans. We’re busy planning next year’s Special Series. If you have suggestions for topics we should cover, please email us (basis@divisiononaddictions.org).

In an effort to get a sense of how you and other readers are engaging with The BASIS, we’ve taken a look at our traffic statistics. We’ve had some busy days! In particular, we had a lot of visits on days when we described research on how social media depictions relate to adolescents’ drinking behavior, how gambling problems are related to harmful health behaviors, and how environmental features in casinos affect gambling behavior. These examples illustrate the diversity of the scientific findings we describe every week.

In the coming weeks, you’ll have the opportunity to help improve The BASIS –and potentially win a collection of Division on Addiction faculty books—by completing a short reader survey. You’ll receive an invitation from Dr. Howard Shaffer, Director of the Division on Addiction and Editor-in-Chief of The BASIS. Look for that invitation in your mailbox in early January.

We at the Division on Addiction are entirely self-funded. That means that we rely on grants, contracts, and gifts to produce all of our work, including The BASIS. Please help us continue our work by making your year-end, tax deductible donation to The BASIS today. Together we can continue to advance the public’s understanding of addiction and, ultimately, improve the lives of people touched by addiction. Any amount makes a difference. Please support us now with a donation.

Thank you and best wishes for a happy holiday season.


The BASIS Team

Howard J. Shaffer, Ph.D., C.A.S., Editor-in-Chief
Heather M. Gray, Ph.D., Senior Editor, BASIS
Debi A. LaPlante, Ph.D., Editor, STASH and WAGER
Sarah E. Nelson, Ph.D., Editor, ASHES and DRAM
Matthew Tom, Ph.D.
Tasha Chandler
Katerina Belkin
John Kleschinsky
Jed Jeng
Emily Shoov


Cambridge Health Alliance Readiness for Gambling Expansion (CHARGE)

Cambridge Health Alliance is getting ready for gambling expansion in Massachusetts. The CHARGE Initiative is an education, information, and awareness effort that will help people dealing with gambling disorder. Read more about CHARGE here.

Online CME Course

Disordered Gambling in Your Practice: Information and Resources for Dealing with Disordered Gambling

Course Directors: Heather M. Gray, Ph.D., Debi A. LaPlante, Ph.D., and Howard Shaffer, Ph.D., C.A.S.

The Division is proud to announce the launch of our latest online CME course, Disordered Gambling in Your Practice: Information and Resources for Dealing with Disordered Gambling. The course is dedicated to increasing providers’ understanding of disordered gambling and its importance to their practice. To learn more about the course, or to register, please click here.

Division Staff Present New Research at the Harvard Psychiatry Research Day Poster Session and Mysell Lecture and the Cambridge Health Alliance Academic Poster Session

Research staff from the Division on Addiction present posters at the Harvard Psychiatry Research Day Poster Session and Mysell Lecture and the Cambridge Health Alliance Academic Poster Session.

Harvard Psychiatry Research Day Poster Session and Mysell Lecture - March 19, 2014

The Cambridge Health Alliance Academic Poster Session - April 9, 2014

Please click on the below links to view the posters.

Recruitment Opportunities for Studies


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


Changing social networks among homeless individuals: A prospective evaluation of a job- and life-skills training program


Social networks play important roles in mental and physical health among the general population. Building healthier social networks might contribute to the development of self-sufficiency among people struggling to overcome homelessness and substance use disorders. In this study of homeless adults completing a job- and life-skills program (i.e., the Moving Ahead Program at St. Francis House, Boston), we prospectively examined changes in social network quality, size, and composition. Among the sample of participants (n = 150), we observed positive changes in social network quality over time. However, social network size and composition did not change among the full sample. The subset of participants who reported abstaining from alcohol during the months before starting the program reported healthy changes in their social networks; specifically, while completing the program, they re-structured their social networks such that fewer members of their network used alcohol to intoxication. We discuss practical implications of these findings. Click here to visit the Library & Archives page.


Comparing stress perception and leisure type preference between South Korean smoking and nonsmoking casino employees


The current study examines the perceived differences of stress and stress coping strategies between smoking and nonsmoking South Korean casino workers. Casino employees (N=621) were grouped into two groups (i.e., smokers and nonsmokers). Using logistic regression analysis with cigarette smoking as the dependent variable, investigators observed that nonsmokers were more likely to report stress related to work or job issues and identify their leisure activity as a form of personal development compared with smokers. Casino employees have a higher prevalence of tobacco smoking than the general population and smoking behaviors tend to cluster with alcohol use and gambling. These findings suggest that smoking cession programs might benefit from taking into account how to provide personal development as a type of leisure.

Click here to visit the Library & Archives page.

Recently Published:

Gray, H. M., Tom, M., LaPlante, D. A., & Shaffer, H. J. (In Press). 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)

Martin, R.J., & Nelson, S. E. (2014). Fantasy sports, real money: Exploration of the relationship between fantasy sports participation and gambling-related problems. Addictive Behaviors, 39(10), 1377-1382. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2014.05.017 (Password Protected)

Shaffer, H. J., & Shaffer, P. M. (2014). Psychiatric epidemiology, nosology, and treatment: Considering Internet gambling. Psychiatric Annals, 44(8), 371-378. (Password Protected)

© Division on Addiction. All Rights Reserved. Last Updated:  January 12, 2015