Health Addiction and Behavioral Intervention Team (HABIT)
The HABIT Laboratory conducts research related to addiction and health that is consistent with two primary goals. First, we strive to conduct research that addresses important public health priorities. Alcohol abuse among young adults results in thousands of injuries, assaults, and fatalities each year, and can set the stage for a lifelong pattern of alcohol abuse and/or dependence and thus meets this criterion.
We have conducted several controlled clinical trials that have demonstrated that brief interventions incorporating motivational interviewing and personalized drinking feedback can reduce heavy drinking among young adults (including both college students and military veterans). These interventions are now being adopted across the country and are replacing previous models of "alcohol education" that were not efficacious. Recently, we were funded by NIAAA to improve standard brief alcohol intervention by adding a behavioral economic supplement that encouraged engagement in constructive alternatives associated with delayed reinforcement.
Although we are primarily interested in conducting research related to alcohol and drug abuse, we are also interested in studying other health-compromising behaviors such as risky sexual behavior and smoking, as well as health-promoting behaviors such as diet and exercise. We are also interested in understanding how risk factors such as impulsivity, high alcohol demand or reinforcing value, and comorbidity (depression, PTSD) are related to both poor treatment response and the development of chronic substance abuse problems/addiction.
The second overarching goal of the HABIT Laboratory is to conduct applied clinical research that is influenced by basic behavioral and biological research (e.g., translational research) and contributes to the overall goal of improving our scientific understanding of human behavior. For example, we have used behavioral economic theory and basic laboratory research to guide our applied research on substance abuse etiology, assessment, and prevention.