Money Flowing Into Tackling Problem Drinking

Money Flowing Into Tackling Problem Drinking
Three new grants have been received by the University at Buffalo's Research Institute on Addictions (RIA) to study "mechanisms of change" that may play a role in the process of changing problem drinking.
Each of the three is funded by a $416,000 grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. In the first project, Rebecca J. Houston, Ph.D., RIA research scientist, is principal investigator on a study of the role of impulsivity in alcohol dependence and its treatment.

According to Houston, "It is likely that, for individuals with an alcohol-use disorder, a lapse in impulse control is a significant factor in the decision to initiate drinking. In this study we are investigating whether changes in impulse control during treatment are related to drinking during as well as after treatment."

It is anticipated that results from this study will better define the role of impulse control as a potential mechanism of behavioral change in alcohol use and provide information about refining existing alcohol treatments and developing new treatment methods.

Houston's co-investigators are Ronda L. Dearing, Ph.D., RIA research scientist; Gerard J. Connors, Ph.D., senior research scientist and director of RIA, as well as UB professor of psychology and research professor of psychiatry; and Gregory G. Homish, Ph.D., RIA associate research scientist and assistant professor in the Department of Health Behavior in UB's School of Public Health and Health Professions.

In the second project, Paul R. Stasiewicz, Ph.D., is examining the important mechanisms for changing behavior in alcohol-dependent men and women who report drinking heavily in situations involving negative emotions.

"Negative emotions play a prominent role in a range of mental-health disorders including alcohol-use disorders," he stated, "and successful treatment of these disorders must include procedures for the clinical management of these negative emotions."

Stasiewicz is a senior research scientist and director of the Clinical Research Center's outpatient clinic at RIA and a research professor in the Department of Psychiatry in the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. His co-investigator is Clara M. Bradizza, Ph.D., RIA senior research scientist and research assistant professor in the UB Department of Psychiatry.

Stasiewicz and Bradizza are examining whether a reduction in negative emotional responses is associated with positive treatment outcomes among alcohol-dependent men and women. They will be using treatment protocols intended to bring about change in cue-elicited negative emotions as well as in alcohol craving.

The third project, led by Gerard J. Connors, Ph.D., is evaluating the perceptions of both client and therapist about the therapeutic alliance and how that relationship may influence change in drinking behavior for the client.

"We expect to provide a better understanding of the interplay of the therapeutic alliance with alcohol use during and following outpatient treatment," Connors explained.

Connors' co-investigators on the study are Kurt H. Dermen, Ph.D., RIAresearch scientist, and Stephen A. Maisto, Ph.D., of Syracuse University.

The Research Institute on Addictions has been a leader in the study of addictions since 1970 and a research center of the University at Buffalo since 1999.

Source: UB News Service

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