SIF135 Addictions

Project Manager: Robert Klesges

Aims to reduce dependence on tobacco, alcohol, and opiates through assessments of campus binge drinking, proliferation of e-cig substitutes, and development of innovative technology.

BoV Approved: December 2017

Project Dates: 2/16/2018 – 2/15/2024

Total Funding: $3,586,726

Executive Summary

Tobacco, binge and episodic drinking (particularly among young people), and opiate dependence combined is the number one cause of premature mortality and morbidity in the state of Virginia. This SIF award proposes to create the infrastructure, technology, and interventions to ultimately reduce the burden of addiction by creating the infrastructure so the technology and interventions are developed, beta tested, and pilot tested in the areas of (a) binge drinking in UVA students; (b) tobacco harm using e-cigarettes followed by cessation; and (c) opiate abuse prevention in a hospital setting as well as those that are addicted to opiates (with a focus on the western part of Virginia).  Our multidisciplinary team is in the top tier of addiction researchers in the country and the SIF projects not only have the potential to lead to additional NIH, DoD, CDC, and TIC funding, but to establish UVA as a world leader in cutting edge, disseminable interventions for the treatment of addictions.  These studies have the potential for great impact in our local community including UVA students and patients, as well as outreach to other communities throughout the state.  Overall and most importantly, we will have the tools to ultimately reduce mortality and morbidity caused by addictions in the state of Virginia.

Current Status: Active


The Addictions project aims to reduce the dependence on tobacco, alcohol, and opioids in the state of Virginia through assessments of and interventions into the proliferation of presumably safer cigarette substitutes, binge drinking among college students, and novel ways to address the opioid epidemic.

In tobacco, we have conducted extensive surveys among current and former smokers to better understand tobacco use patterns and the quitting process. The team is currently conducting formative research on how best to intervene among teenagers to develop interventions to help lower the alarmingly rising rates of adolescent use of electronic nicotine delivery devices (aka "e-cigarettes"), especially in renewed use post-pandemic.

Our opioid research team established an unprecedented statewide Opioid Help Line to connect healthcare professionals, patients, and their families with resources as well as provide counseling and support. We also are working to improve the outcomes of people brought to the ED for an overdose through extensive outreach and follow-up.

Our alcohol research team conducted extensive formative work on binge drinking at the University, developed an innovative app (bHoos) to address specific concerns that were identified, has completed an initial pilot test, and is modifying the bHoos app and beginning new evaluations with students to prepare the team for a future robust evaluation. Outcomes to date have been disseminated and published in scholarly journals.