Clinical care


West End Clinic

About our research

Under Dr. Eden Evins’ leadership for the past 6 years, the MGH CAM has become a leading research group, currently funded by 8 major grants from NIDA and NIAAA. It has grown to include four full time faculty, two part time faculty, 5 post-doctoral fellows, one program coordinator and 10 research coordinators.

Currently, the Center is engaged in over 10 ongoing patient oriented addiction trials studying pharmacological and behavioral treatments of alcohol, other drug, and nicotine dependence, with a total subject enrollment each year of over 300 patients.

If you are interested in participating in one of our research studies, click here for more information.

Studies that are currently enrolling participants are listed below:

Current projects

Dr. A. Eden Evins:

Proof-of-Concept Trial of an Alpha-7 Nicotinic Agonist for Nicotine Dependence (Evins PI) NIDA R01DA030992 (04/01/2011-01/31/2016)
When people quit smoking, a major symptom of nicotine withdrawal is cognitive impairment. This type of impairment can make individuals more likely to start smoking again in order to get rid of that side effect. The Alpha 7 acetylcholine receptor agonist, EVP 6124, has been shown to improve mental performance, such as ability to pay attention and focus for extended periods of time. This study aims to determine whether by improving cognitive performance with EVP 6124, individuals who are trying to quit smoking are more likely to sustain abstinence. This study is currently enrolling 450 healthy male and female smokers aged 18-65 who have smoked an average of at least 15 cigarettes per day during the past year.


Cognitive Remediation with D-cycloserine to Improve Smoking Cessation Outcomes (Evins PI) NIDA R21DA030808 (09/30/2010-05/31/2013)
After people quit smoking, they find that there are many environmental triggers that make them crave smoking again. For this reason, many quitters eventually relapse so that fewer than 20% of people who try to quit smoking are actually successful. The drug d-cycloserine (DCS) has been shown to help eliminate previously learned behaviors that are cued by different environmental triggers. This study aims to determine whether by reducing the craving to smoke with DCS combined with cue exposure therapy (CET), individuals are less likely to relapse after they have quit smoking. This study is currently enrolling 60 healthy male and female smokers aged 18-65 who have smoked an average of at least 15 cigarettes per day during the past year.


Smoking Cessation and Relapse Prevention in Subjects with Schizophrenia (Evins PI) NIDA R01DA021245 (09/01/2007-05/31/2012)
Individuals with schizophrenia have higher smoking relapse rates than smokers in the general population, perhaps because schizophrenia patients have reduced nicotinic responsiveness that is not expected to return to normal after smoking cessation. Continuation of a nicotinic agonist may reduce rates of relapse to smoking. It is likely that longer duration of pharmacotherapy is needed to prevent relapse to smoking in patients with schizophrenia. To assess this possibility, this study will give patients 12 months of pharmacotherapy to help them quit smoking for the long-term. This study is currently enrolling 260 smokers with schizophrenia.


Enhancing Self-Control of Cigarette Craving with Real-Time fMRI (Evins PI) NIDA R21DA030523 (07/15/2011-06/30/2013)
Although there are many treatments available to help quit smoking, up to 90% of people who quit still relapse within the first year. This mainly occurs when individuals are exposed to environmental triggers that make them crave smoking again. When this happens, the brain’s activity increases and this can be measured with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). This study aims to understand the brain mechanisms that cause individuals to relapse after smoking cessation, and potentially create a new form a therapy that will reduce the urge to smoke after they quit. This study is currently seeking 160 healthy male and female smokers aged 18-55 who have smoked an average of at least 10 cigarettes per day during the past year.


Dr. John F. Kelly:

Development and Testing of Adolescent Twelve-Step Facilitation (Kelly PI) NIAAA R01AA019664 (09/05/2011 – 05/31/2014)
This study is the first to develop and test in a randomized experimental design the efficacy of an integrated 12-step facilitation intervention tailored for young people. In the first phase of the study, we are developing and revising a preliminary manual for the two sessions individually-delivered Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET) component and subsequent 8 session group-delivered CBT component which will integrate Twelve-step Facilitation (TSF). Three groups of 8-12 adolescents each will complete the preliminary integrated iTSF protocol. In the second phase of the study, we will compare iTSF to standard treatment (MET/CBT) in a randomized experimental design for adolescent substance use disorder with 60 adolescents. As a result, we will examine potential mechanisms that may underlie the efficacy of iTSF in improving alcohol and other drug use outcomes. We will test group differences on potential mechanisms of change (e.g., AA/NA attendance and involvement) and whether these variables are associated with substance use outcomes.


Recovery Research Initiative (Kelly PI) funded by the Tower Foundation and private donors
The Recovery Research Initiative is housed within the Department of Psychiatry at MGH under the auspices of the CAM. Under the leadership of Dr. John F. Kelly, the RRI will begin to push the agenda for addiction recovery forward by conducting high quality, recovery relevant research, and disseminating and implementing results for the benefit of our communities and broader society. The RRI will become a center for training promising scientists for careers in addiction and recovery research.

Some of the RRI projects include building and maintaining a website in order to provide a credible source of information to debunk addiction and recovery myths, and provide free access to the latest recovery research information; building and evaluating recovery support programs in the community; building and evaluating recovery support programs in educational settings such as high schools and colleges; understanding the impact of community mutual-help organizations; addiction treatment system program evaluation.

Mechanisms and Moderators of Behavior Change among Youth Treated for Alcohol use Disorders (Kelly PI) NIAAA R21AA018185 (6/29/2010 - 6/30/2013)
This study examines the treatment and continuing care responses of young adults (18-25yrs) with specific examination of the mechanisms through which relapse and recovery occurs, for whom, and what points.


Dr. Bettina Hoeppner:

Dynamic Processes of Smoking Cessation (Hoeppner PI) NIDA 5K01DA027097-02 (05/01/2010-04/30-2015)
Approximately 20% of college students smoke cigarettes, which is significantly lower than in 2005, but still a major public health concern. This study examines smoking outcome expectancies (an individual’s anticipation of the effects of a future experience) in college student smokers attempting to quit. The study is currently seeking 120 college students who would like to quit smoking.


Dr. Zev Schuman-Olivier:

Effects of Mindfulness Training on Impulsivity and Inhibitory Control in Smokers (Schuman-Olivier PI) NIDA R03DA030899 (09/30/2010-08/31/2012)
It has been found that mindfulness meditation benefits people with substance use disorders through cognitive mechanisms, such as decreased thought suppression, decreased stress reactivity, and decreased motor impulsiveness. However, no widely accepted behavioral measures of impulsivity or inhibitory control have been used to measure the effect of mindfulness practice in smokers. This project aims to evaluate the relationship between mindfulness and behavioral measures of impulsivity and inhibitory control in smoking cessation and early abstinence.


Dr. Luke Stoeckel:

Correlates of Nicotine Enhancement of Reward Responsiveness in Schizophrenia (Stoeckel PI) Brain and Behavior Research Foundation (07/15/2011-07/14/2013
There are an increasing number of known links between the use of nicotine and the neurobiology of schizophrenia. It has been theorized that negative symptoms, such as lack of drive to pursue goals or inability to experience pleasure, may be improved via nicotine intake by normalizing brain systems that are involved in reward and motivation, which is why so many individuals with schizophrenia struggle with nicotine abstinence. The ultimate goal of this study is to better understand reward and inhibitory control deficits in schizophrenia and to establish a therapeutic target for negative symptoms of schizophrenia.


Recently closed projects

Dr. A. Eden Evins

Glycine Transport Inhibition for Nicotine Dependence in Schizophrenia (Evins PI) NIDA R01DA022276 (09/30/2006-06/30/2011)
Individuals with schizophrenia smoke almost three times more than the general population and are less likely to quit smoking with available therapies. Tobacco- derived nicotine has been shown to improve negative symptoms, improve impaired cognitive function, and normalize reward responsivity in individuals with schizophrenia, which is why it is harder for them to quit. Sarcosine has been shown to have the same effects on the brain as tobacco-derived nicotine on individuals with schizophrenia. This study aimed to determine whether sarcosine has the potential to be an effective therapy for nicotine dependence for individuals with schizophrenia.


Dr. John F. Kelly:

Helping Others and Long-term Outcomes among Youth with Substance Use Disorders (Pagano PI, Kelly Co-I) Templeton Foundation (4/01/2009 - 3/31/2012)
This multi-site prospective study examines how facilitating altruism (e.g., helping behaviors) among substance-involved adolescents and young adults may facilitate further adaptive addiction recovery-related changes in substance use and psychosocial functioning.


Adolescent Treatment and 12-Step Mutual-help Participation (Kelly PI) NIAAA R01 AA015526-01 (2006-2010)
This study examined the process, proximal and distal treatment outcomes of this highly prevalent, but under-studied, treatment model among youth.


Perpetrator or Victim? The Influence of Addiction Terminology On Perceptions of Treatment Need versus Punishment (Kelly PI) Center for Addiction Medicine Research Grant Award (2008-2009)
This study examined experimentally the impact of various commonly used substance-related terms on stigmatizing attitudes and judgments about whether individuals with substance-related conditions are more or less personally culpable for their problems and more deserving of punishment vs. treatment.


Mechanisms and Moderators of Behavior Change in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) (Kelly PI) NIAAA R21 1R21AA016762-01 (2007-2009)
This study examined who benefits from the recovery-focused mutual-help organization, Alcoholics Anonymous, and why, using sophisticated hierarchical linear modeling, and mediational and moderator analysis procedures using the Project MATCH clinical data set.


Treatment Process and Outcomes of the Minnesota Model with Young Adult Substance Use Disorder Patients (Kelly PI) Butler Center for Research, Hazelden Foundation type H0451 (2006-2009)
This study examined the changes in the cognitive, behavioral, and social factors targeted during treatment and tested their relationship to AA and NA participation and short and long-term outcomes with young adults undergoing residential treatment.


Dr. Luke Stoeckel

Development of Real-Time fMRI as a Novel Adjunctive Behavioral Treatment for Addictions (Stoeckel PI) Zinberg Fellowship (07/01/2010-06/30/2011)
Up to 90% of people who quit smoking relapse within the first year, even with the best treatment available. Thus, it is necessary to develop a better understanding of the neurobiological basis of addiction, and of relapse in particular, in order to help people maintain abstinence. This project tested real-time fMRI used with emotion regulation strategies, as a way to understand and potentially modulate the neurobiology of addiction and of relapse in particular.


Clinical trials
The following related clinical trials and research studies are currently seeking participants at Massachusetts General Hospital. Search for clinical trials and studies in another area of interest.


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