Treating Tobacco, Alcohol, and Illegal Drug Use

ORI’s work in this area dates from research funding obtained in the late 1970’s to study tobacco use in youth. Since then, research interests have broadened to include community-and-school-based prevention programs of youth alcohol and other drug use. Two important ORI longitudinal studies – one on peer and family influences on youth drug use, and the other on young children’s knowledge of and intent to use alcohol and drugs -- have provided valuable guidance in the development of substance abuse prevention programs.

Current Research

Treating Drug and Alcohol Abuse and Addiction

Collaborating with clinics in Oregon and New Mexico, ORI scientists study the effectiveness of different treatment approaches for teens diagnosed with alcohol or other substance use disorders, and methods for disseminating these programs to community settings. The evidence-based programs include group, individual, and family-based cognitive behavior therapies combined with skills training for parents and youth. Researchers are also working with teen girls who have had contact with the juvenile justice system and may be engaged in risk-taking behaviors. The research intervention includes one-on-one mentoring and skill building for girls, and a group-based training and support program for parents.

Understanding and Preventing Substance Use

ORI scientists are analyzing the various factors that play a role in a person’s decision to use/abuse substances. Current research includes secondary analysis of a rich dataset from a longitudinal study to determine the course of substance use disorders in families, a project designed to understand the influence of peer dynamics on youth substance use, and research examining the role that families, peers, and communities play in youth marijuana use. These findings are vital to the design of effective drug prevention programs.

Reducing or Eliminating Tobacco Use

ORI scientists are internationally recognized for their pioneering studies of tobacco use and its prevention and cessation. ORI scientists have conducted ground-breaking work in both smoking and smokeless (spit) tobacco cessation. ORI researchers were the first to use the principles of behavior change in studying tobacco prevention and cessation, and have made significant contributions to Institute of Medicine and U.S. Surgeon General's reports on smoking. Current research focuses on the health and behavioral impacts of e-cigarettes and other methods of nicotine delivery, how partner support can influence smokers’ success in quitting, and on the genomics of nicotine addiction.