Cognitive Behavioral Coping Skills Therapy (CBCST) is a commonly utilized, evidence-based
psychosocial therapy (talk therapy) for alcohol dependence. By identifying the neural
mechanisms through which CBCST changes drinking behavior, it may be possible to improve its
efficacy. CBCST promotes abstinence by teaching "coping skills" for managing alcohol-related
thoughts and emotions. In this pilot study, the investigators examine the neural systems that
play a role in the learning of coping skills through CBCST, specifically focusing on the role
of emotion regulation systems.
The study combines 1) a 12-week clinical trial of CBCST in currently drinking alcohol
dependent patients (target N=25) who are seeking treatment to reduce their drinking with 2)
functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) experiments that probe neural activity related
to the utilization of copings skills taught in CBCST. The fMRI studies will be performed both
before and after treatment with CBCST, with the goal of determining 1) the pattern of neural
activity that is related to coping skills utilization prior to undergoing CBCST, with
particular focus on neural systems known to play a role in emotion regulation; 2) how CBCST
changes this pattern of neural activity; and 3) how these changes in neural activity predict
changes in alcohol use during CBCST.
- Meets DSM-V criteria for current Alcohol Use Disorder
- Currently drinking >5/4 or more drinks/day for men/women in the last 28 day, on
average, at the time of initial screening visit.
- Current goal of moderating or abstaining from drinking alcohol
- Seeking treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder
- Agree to not seek additional treatment, apart from Alcoholics Anonymous
- English-speaking and able to provide informed consent and comply with study procedures
- Willing to abstain from alcohol completely for 24 hours on 3 separate occasions
- Any current Moderate or Severe substance use disorder, other than alcohol, nicotine or
caffeine use disorders.
- Lifetime history of Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia or Schizoaffective Disorder
- A diagnosis of any current psychiatric disorder other than Alcohol Use Disorder (e.g.
Major Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder) that in the investigator's
judgment might require intervention with either pharmacological or non-pharmacological
therapy over the course of the study.
- History of severe alcohol withdrawal (e.g. seizure, delirium tremens, multiple
detoxifications or ER visits for alcohol withdrawal)
- Significant risk for suicide or violence
- Legally mandated to receive treatment
- Sufficiently socially unstable as to preclude study participation (e.g. homeless).
- Currently taking any psychotropic medications.
- Significant cognitive impairment
- Neurological or medical conditions that would interfere with MRI scanning (e.g.
history of stroke, seizure, brain tumor, brain infection, multiple sclerosis, metal
device in body, pregnancy, claustrophobia)
Nasir H. Naqvi, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor of Pscyhiatry
Nasir H. Naqvi, MD, PhD