The Addiction Sciences Division (ASD) provides an unparalleled environment for conducting alcohol and drug research, for training students, postdoctoral fellows, and junior faculty in the addictions, and for translating advances in research to state-of-the-art clinical care. Within the ASD, the expertise exists such that it is possible to follow a continuum of research beginning at the molecular level, through neural circuits and animal models of craving, addiction, and withdrawal across the lifespan, to clinical laboratory paradigms and clinical trials, culminating in dissemination, and implementation to front-line patient care. We are also equipped to influence public policy. Few institutions can boast of having this type of a continuum, further highlighting the uniqueness and strength of the Medical University of South Carolina's (MUSC) translational addiction research environment for both new and established investigators.
The ASD is comprised of three separate, but inter-related branches: Clinical Care, Research, and Education/Training.
ASD Clinical Care is also known as the Center for Drug and Alcohol Programs (CDAP). Since opening to the public in March 1995, the clinical program, housed in the Institute of Psychiatry and providing both inpatient and outpatient services, has become one of the nation's premier facilities for state-of-the-art treatment of addiction in adults and adolescents. The multidisciplinary clinical staff is composed of psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, social workers, and counselors, all with advanced training in addictive behaviors. The clinical staff is further trained to assess and treat co-existing psychological problems in the context of substance abuse treatment.
The close connection between the Clinical Care Branch and the Research Branch insures that the latest, evidence-based treatments are incorporated into clinical care and that patient care is individualized. Treatment approaches include behavioral interventions such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, motivational enhancement, attention re-training, mindfulness, and 12-Step facilitation, as well as pharmacological interventions for opiate, nicotine, and alcohol addiction, in combination with behavioral interventions.
In ASD, there is a bi-directional dialogue between basic and clinical M.D. and Ph.D. researchers on a regular basis. As such, many of the division faculty are nationally recognized leaders in psychological and pharmacological treatment discoveries, and many are well-known for their work in the treatment of addiction and co-occurring psychiatric problems. The Research branch is highly successful in acquiring extramural funding for their cutting-edge work from NIH, the Department of Defense, pharmaceutical companies, the Veterans Administration, and foundations.
Examples of current interdisciplinary topics under study are alcohol, tobacco, and drug craving, withdrawal, and/or relapse prevention; brain circuitry underlying the addictive process; treatment of co-occurring PTSD and addiction; the influence of stress on alcohol, tobacco, and drug cravings; new medications for alcohol, cocaine, and nicotine dependence; e-cigarette use/abuse/effects; the use of real-time interventions on substance use; the influence of alcohol and drugs on the adolescent brain in both humans and animals; biological markers of heavy alcohol use; structural and functional brain changes associated with the transition from alcohol and drug use to abuse. The ASD faculty are leaders in utilization of the latest brain neuroimaging and genetics techniques in addictions research.
Education & Training
The ASD boasts of a strong history in addictions training at all levels. There are established institutional training programs funded by NIH that provide mentored research training opportunities in alcohol, tobacco, and drug addiction to graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, psychiatric and medicine residents, and junior faculty. Trainees come from both clinical and basic science disciplines. There are mentored summer research training opportunities for undergraduate and medical students. MUSC also has an ACGME-accredited Addiction Psychiatry Fellowship Program for physicians to develop expertise in the treatment of addiction.
In addition to training, ASD faculty are also leaders in the development of educational materials, including web-based tools and treatment manuals, to train current and future health care professionals in how to recognize and treat substance abuse, addiction, and co-occurring disorders.