Huss Research Chair

Responding to the needs of older adults, the Huss Research Chair is a unique role that’s changing the lives of those living with substance use disorders
Shot of a senior man using a laptop at home

Due to a generous donation made by the Huss Family Foundation, the Butler Center for Research is able to offer a permanently endowed Research Chair position on the topic of older adults and alcohol/drug problems to external researchers and scholars.

The goal of the Huss Research Chair is to help Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation better respond to the needs of older adults with substance abuse problems and to share that knowledge with the field. Data will be presented at national academic conferences, published in scholarly journals, and form the basis of future government or private foundation grant research.

Individuals who hold a Ph.D. or M.D. and who have a research background in either older adults, adult development (or related areas) or alcohol/drug problems, are eligible to apply for the Chair. The position allows the Chair holder to maintain a joint appointment between his or her academic setting and Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation.

Together, Butler Center for Research staff and the chair holder(s) collaborate to conduct research in the areas of prevalence, prevention, intervention, treatment, continuing care, and family support for older adults. Applied research that has a direct application to clinical practice is emphasized. Results of the research projects will be integrated into Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation practice, and more broadly to general treatment practice.

In 2001, the first Huss Research Chair position was awarded to the team of Dr. Frederic Blow, of the University of Michigan, and Dr. David Oslin of the University of Pennsylvania.

The Huss Chair study currently underway is examining the effects of naltrexone, a pharmacological agent designed to reduce craving for alcohol. Over 100 adult residential patients receiving naltrexone during and after treatment will be compared to a control group not receiving an anti craving agent for alcohol. Daily diaries are being administered to assess self-report craving for alcohol during treatment and will enable identification of patients with high levels of craving. The effects of naltrexone on both craving and substance use outcomes during the year following treatment are being examined. In addition, this study is assessing whether or not a patient's response to naltrexone is mediated by the presence of a mu opioid receptor allele, which past research has shown to be associated with an enhanced response to naltrexone. This study will increase understanding of the effects of naltrexone in treating alcohol dependence.

Past Huss Chair projects:

Understanding alcohol craving and negative affect among persons with alcohol dependence
This study examined the course of affective symptoms (such as depression) and craving for alcohol during the initial 3 weeks of residential treatment for alcohol/drug dependence. It also examined the relationship between affect, craving level, and substance use outcomes after treatment. Patients with high craving throughout the treatment stay resumed substance use more quickly and were more likely to have negative affect than patients low in craving. Results of this study were published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence

Understanding the Impact of Addiction on Family Members of Older Adults
Interviews were conducted with up to three family members of 100 older adult patients (55 and up) diagnosed with alcohol dependence and 25 patients diagnosed with benzodiazepine dependence. The family members were asked about the effect addiction had on family functioning, emotional well-being, and resources. Interviews were conducted at treatment entry and at several time points after discharge. The intent was to determine how Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation and other programs can assist family members during a loved one's illness.

Need to contact the Butler Center for Research? Email us, or call 1-651-213-4200.