Department of Psychiatry
Penn Behavioral Health

Center for Studies of Addiction

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History


The Center for Studies of Addiction/Treatment Research Center (CSA), jointly sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VA), was founded in 1971 for the dual purpose of providing high quality treatment and advancing research frontiers.

The CSA has played a key role in the development of new treatments for addictive disorders, both psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy. Researchers at the Center were the first to show efficacy for antidepressants in the treatment of opiate addiction and the first to demonstrate the usefulness of naltrexone in the treatment of alcoholism. Early studies of LAAM (Levo-Alpha Acetyl Methadol) and naltrexone for the treatment of opiate dependence were conducted at the Center. Since receiving funding through a National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)/VA Interagency Agreement for medications development, the Center has conducted key studies on LAAM that were instrumental in obtaining FDA approval of that medication for the treatment of opiate addiction. Research is now focusing on developing a medication that improves the treatment of cocaine dependence.

The NIDA/VA Interagency Agreement funding has supported the construction of new space at the VA for both treatment and research.  Space was also obtained at Chestnut Hall for the development of a treatment program uniquely for research, the Treatment Research Center. A third site for clinical research is the Penn Presbyterian Medical Center that was added in 1998. With the funding of the Clinical Trials Network in 1999, the Center developed research affiliations with approximately 20 treatment programs in the Delaware Valley/South Jersey area.

Another accomplishment of the CSA has been the development of the Addiction Severity Index (ASI) as a measure used in both treatment and research. This instrument was first proposed at a NIDA conference on Addiction Research Technology in Reston, Virginia in 1974. The proposal involved the need for a multi-dimensional measurement for drug- dependent patients that captured the range of problems that affected treatment. The ASI and later the Treatment Services Review were developed under the leadership of A. Thomas McLellan. PhD who also founded the Treatment Research Institute in 1991.