Department of Psychiatry

Penn Behavioral Health

The Center

The Charles O'Brien Center for Addiction Treatment at the University of Pennsylvania Health System offers state-of-the-art addiction treatment provided by nationally renowned experts in the field. Our goal is to provide the highest possible quality of addiction treatment while helping you to regain control of your life.

Treatment Philosophy

We believe that treatment begins with a comprehensive evaluation in a supportive environment that includes an assessment of medical and psychiatric complications, difficulties in various realms of functioning, and readiness for change.

Our compassionate team believes in treating a person, not merely an addiction, and we strive to understand unique life circumstances, personal preferences, and character strengths to tailor an individualized treatment plan.

Since addiction is a biological disorder, we often prescribe medications to reduce cravings, block the rewarding effects of drugs and alcohol, and normalize brain function. Our approach fully integrates the psychological and biological interventions that are most likely to lead to sustained recovery in an outpatient setting.

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Charles O'Brien, MD, PhD

Dr. O'Brien received his MD and PhD degrees from Tulane University, and received residency training in psychiatry, neurology, and medicine at Harvard, the University of London, Tulane and the University of Pennsylvania (Penn). He is board-certified in psychiatry, neurology and addiction psychiatry.

One of the most prominent addiction researchers in the world, Dr. O'Brien has made many important discoveries and contributions over the past 40 years that have become the standard of care in addiction treatment throughout the world. Aside from developing medications to treat alcohol, opioid, and cocaine dependence, his work has also increased the understanding of the clinical aspects of addiction and the neurobiology of relapse.

Among his numerous honors, Dr. O'Brien was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 1991, and received the Nathan B. Eddy award for research from the College on Problems of Drug Dependence in 2003, the Sarnat International Prize in Mental Health from the National Academy of Science, the Jellinek award fir alcohol research and the Isaacson for Alcoholism research. He has advised our national government on drug policy for decades, and was the President of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, and the Association for Research in Nervous and Mental Disease. In recognition of his contributions to science he received a knighthood (Chevalier) from the French Legion of Honor in 2013.

Dr. O'Brien served as Kenneth Appel Chair and Vice-Chair of Psychiatry at Penn from 1987 to 2008, and was the founding director of the prestigious Center for Studies of Addiction in 1971.