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CDAP > Research > Research at the Center for Drug and Alcohol Programs
Research at the Center for Drug and Alcohol Programs

The Center for Drug and Alcohol Programs (CDAP) has had a long history of involvement in research to advance knowledge in substance use disorders. Some of the most well known and respected leaders in the field of alcohol and chemical dependency research are conducting basic science and clinical research studies at CDAP. Examples of some of the interdisciplinary topics under study are cravings for alcohol or cocaine, treatment of withdrawal symptoms, characterization of the alcohol withdrawal phenomenon, alcohol and social anxiety, and mood disorders such as depression or bipolar disorder which coexist with substance use.

Within CDAP is the Charleston Alcohol Research Center  (ARC).  The ARC has the honor of being chosen by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism to be a National Alcohol Research Center. The Center's research projects focus on alcohol treatment and treatment implications. The treatment research theme has its foundation in advances achieved by complementing clinical research with basic research in behavioral science. There are five interdisciplinary research components and three core components within the Charleston Alcohol Research Center.

The research effort at CDAP is an integrated "bench-to-clinic" strategy aimed at achieving and promoting effective treatment programs through the application of the most advanced research findings in the field of substance abuse and dependence.


  • Repeated alcohol detoxifications can lead to an increase in seizure risk
  • Outpatient alcohol withdrawal can be accomplished more safely with anticonvulsant medications
  • Use of benzodiazepines for multiple withdrawals in mouse and human studies has been shown to be potentially dangerous
  • Alcoholics with depression, PTSD, or social anxiety can be successfaully treated
  • Found that opiate antagonists (e.g. naltrexone) reduce drinking in mice and that they also reduce drinking and alcohol induced craving/reward in man
  • Led COMBNIE study showing that naltrexone was effective even without intensive counseling (JAMA)
  • Helped deisng and conduct a clinical trial proving that topiramate could promote abstinence (JAMA)
  • First to use brain imaging to show that brains of heavy drinkers react to alcohol cues differently from social drinkers and that naltrexone blocks that reaction
  • First in US to use an advanced blood test (%CDT) to detect and monitor heavy drinking and provide testing for patients at MUHA, VA, and IOP
  • Scientifically proved the link between pre-natal use and fetal alcohol syndrome
  • First to conduct a national study to evaluate better ways for primary care MD's to screen for heavy drinking with aid of electronic medical records
  • First to use in-vitro brain networks to explore the role of alcohol on the brain growing in the lab dish
  • Recognized by NIAAA as having one of the best animal drinking models to discover new medications to treat alcohol dependence and withdrawal
  • Discovered that an over the counter supplement (NAC) could be useful to treat cocaine addiction
  • Leading the way in pharmacogenetics of alcohol use disorders (personalized medicine)

To read more about CDAP research, please see highlights of CDAP faculty publications on alcohol and substance abuse

Help make a difference - donate to CDAP.  Choose "Center for Drug and Alcohol Programs" in the designation drop down box.

More on the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism  

Information on Clinical Trials at CDAP

More information on the National Institute on Drug Abuse

Charleston Alcohol Research Center
The Center is one of the few institutions that incorporates both basic scientists and clinical researchers, especially psychiatrists, in a collaborative working relationship. Too often basic scientists are unaware of clinical issues worthy of modeling, and clinicians are unaware of advances in basic science that have clinical applicability. 

More on Charleston Alcohol Research Center 


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"I felt at all times that the staff I encountered were very interested in helping me. I never felt like a 'number.' "-CEL

" I did not feel judged or less of a person because of my alcohol issues. It has been a very positive experience...I also now realize this is a forever problem that I have to address on a daily basis."-Bobby

"This was an excellent experience. I learned a lot about alcohol dependence, coping strategies and other health related issues as they involve alcohol consumption. Most importantly my personal and family life have improved dramatically. Thank you, thank you, thank you!" -James