Senior Research Scientist
Department of Psychiatry
Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
Learning-based processes of addiction; the application of basic behavioral research to the development of new clinical interventions; alcohol craving; affect regulation and pretreatment change.
Dr. Stasiewicz’s has an NIAAA-funded program of research focusing on individuals who change (i.e., reduce) their drinking prior to initiating and entering treatment for an alcohol use disorder. The first funded project focuses on identifying pretreatment drinking trajectories and their relationship to treatment outcome, whereas the second funded project is a randomized clinical trial that is investigating the impact of tailoring treatment for those who demonstrate more or less pretreatment change in alcohol use. Data from these studies are anticipated to have a direct impact on clinical practice by suggesting ways to modify treatment to achieve optimal outcomes (i.e., greater efficiency and effectiveness) based on an individual’s pattern of pretreatment change in alcohol use. In addition, the data from this line of research have implications for how treatment data are analyzed to examine the impact of treatment on substance use outcomes.
A second line of funded research focuses on the clinical application of learning-based principles to the development of novel treatment approaches for substance use. A recent treatment developed by Dr. Stasiewicz and his colleagues is called Emotion Regulation Training. The search for effective treatments to address the problem of negative affect as it relates to substance use and substance use disorders has eluded both clinicians and researchers for decades despite the strong influence of negative affect on substance use and relapse to substance use following treatment. In his program of research he and his colleagues have demonstrated that 1) negative affect cues increase craving for alcohol and nicotine, 2) the reduction of negative affect results in decreases in craving for alcohol and nicotine, 3) interventions for substance abuse can safely incorporate negative affect cues into behavioral cue exposure approaches, and 4) reductions in negative affect and/or craving are associated with improved outcomes for substance abuse. This systematic approach to addressing the difficult problem of negative affect in substance use coupled with promising treatment outcomes across multiple subgroups of substance abusers represents an advance of great significance to the field of addictive behaviors.