For the last 8 years we have partnered with community mental health centers to test a positive approach to addiction called motivational incentives (aka contingency management). In this intervention, people who are new to recovery from substance use disorders and serious mental illness (such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder) receive incentives (like prizes and gift cards) when they demonstrate that they haven’t been using drugs and alcohol. This simple, low-cost intervention is not only associated with decreases in drug and alcohol use, but also reduces psychiatric hospitalizations. We are working to refine this approach so that it works even better for people who suffer from addiction and serious mental health problems.
For the last 5 years we have been partnering with American Indian and Alaska Native communities to determine if a motivational incentive intervention for alcohol use is effective in improving outcomes in adults who are suffering from alcohol use disorders. We are partnering with these communities to determine if this intervention is feasible and effective, but also to determine which clinical and cultural factors might predict the intervention’s effectiveness.
New research is demonstrating that with early identification and intervention, youth who experience psychotic disorders, like schizophrenia, can go on to experience long and fulfilling lives. Previously, many if not most individuals with psychotic disorders experienced lifelong financial, social, and medical hardships. We are partnering with the Washington State Department of Behavioral Health and Recovery, the University of Washington, and community mental health centers throughout the state to pilot and evaluate a novel multicomponent intervention for 15-25 year olds who are experiencing their first symptoms of psychosis. The goal of this program is to help these youth and their families develop the skills needed to recover and thrive as soon as possible.
Our group is currently collaborating with other faculty at Washington State University to better understand how the recent decriminalization of cannabis is effecting the health and well-being of individuals in Washington State. We are pursuing community based research focused on the impact of chronic pain on cannabis use, new ways to accurately estimate the prevalence of cannabis use in high school students, how cannabis use is dealt with in high schools, and how cannabis use affects treatment outcomes in people receiving treatment for alcohol and drug problems.
Our group is also conducting research to validate alcohol biomarkers (measures that can be used to confirm alcohol use) in clinical samples. This is important research because until recently clinicians have relied on self-report to assess whether or not alcohol treatment is working. Our group is currently conducting research on ethyl glucuronide, phosphatidylethanol, and mobile smartphone breathalyzers. We are working to develop new ways in which these biomarkers might be used to improve treatment for people with alcohol problems.