Division on Addiction


Site Contents:


About Us



Library & Archives

Drug & Addiction Information


Contact Us


BBGS e-Screener


20th Anniversary



Other Division web sites:


Expressions of Addiction

The Transparency Project

A Brief History of the Division on Addiction

During 1990, a Harvard Medical School (HMS) planning committee recommended the creation of a division to direct the school’s educational, medical, and scientific resources toward alleviating the vast and complex array of public heath problems caused by addictive behaviors. This mandate led to the 1992 opening of the Division on Addiction (formerly known as the Division on Addictions; the Division) at Harvard Medical School under the Direction of Steven Hyman, M.D., who later would become the Director of the National Institute of Mental Health. Upon Dr. Hyman’s departure, Howard Shaffer, Ph.D., became the Director of the Division during 1995. The Harvard Medical School assigned Dr. Shaffer and the Division with the task of coordinating research, education, training, and communication relevant to substance abuse at HMS and its primary affiliated teaching hospitals.

Over the years, the Division deepened and broadened its scope both within and outside the university. The Division has provided a critical link between HMS students, the clinical and research scientists at Harvard, other medical education communities, and the lay public. Through its continuing medical education, faculty development courses, research collaborations with other HMS and non-HMS faculty, fellowship training programs, and visiting scholars program, the Division continues to have a meaningful influence on the public health and medical communities. Further, The Division is reaching additional communities through its public forums, public education activities, middle school curriculum development, and high school student internship program.

Now located within the Department of Psychiatry at The Cambridge Health Alliance, one of Harvard Medical School’s Teaching Affiliates. Dr. Debi LaPlante has joined Dr. Shaffer as the Director of Research and Academic Affairs. The Division’s recent work has resulted in groundbreaking research in a variety of areas, including the epidemiology of addiction and co-occurring disorders, as well as technology based programs to assess and intervene with repeat drunken drivers and Internet gamblers. The Division has been a leader in advancing theory driven approaches to the study and treatment of addiction; division faculty members have published hundreds of scholarly publications that are advancing our understanding of addiction. Most notably, Division researchers proposed the ‘Syndrome Model’ to help explain the trajectory of addictive behavior (Shaffer et al., 2004) and this work will be summarized in the forthcoming two volume Handbook from the American Psychological Association, the APA Addiction Syndrome Handbook (Shaffer, LaPlante, & Nelson, in press-a, in press-b).

Please explore the rest of our website for details related to Division publications, projects, educational opportunities, and other activities!

References Cited

Shaffer, H. J., LaPlante, D. A., LaBrie, R. A., Kidman, R. C., Donato, A. N., & Stanton, M. V. (2004). Toward a syndrome model of addiction: multiple expressions, common etiology. Harvard Review of Psychiatry, 12(6), 367-374.

Shaffer, H. J., LaPlante, D. A., & Nelson, S. E. (Eds.). (in press-a). The APA Addiction Syndrome Handbook (Vol. 1. Foundations, Influences, and Expressions of Addiction). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association Press.

Shaffer, H. J., LaPlante, D. A., & Nelson, S. E. (Eds.). (in press-b). The APA Addiction Syndrome Handbook (Vol. 2. Recovery, Prevention, and Other Issues). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association Press


2012 Lifetime Achievement Award - Nomination Deadline Extended

The Division on Addiction seeks nominations for its 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award. Nominations are welcome from any interested party and nominees can reside anywhere in the world. The Lifetime Achievement Award is given to individuals who have made sustained, outstanding, and unusually significant contributions to the study and treatment of addiction throughout a career.

Please send nominations in writing to Tasha Chandler (Head of Research and Academic Operations, Division on Addiction, 101 Station Landing, Suite 2100, Medford, MA 02155; tchandler@challiance.org) by December 14, 2012. Nominations should include the nominee’s CV and a letter clearly identifying the reasons why you think the nominee deserves this distinction. The nomination letter should be no longer than two pages in length.

The Division will announce the recipient on December 21, 2012.

December Activities

Stay tuned for our 20th anniversary activities during December!

November Recipients

The Division is pleased to announce the following people will receive a copy of Anne Fletcher's forthcoming book, Inside Rehab: The Surprising Truth about Addiction Treatment - and How to Get Help that Works - Leslie Bodvar, Libby Eberhardt, Kathie Gillet, Linda Hutton, Patricia Lewis, Stephen Merritt, Nenita Peralta, Nanciellen Poulin, Judith Powsner, Edward Rubin, Andrea Ryan, David Summersby, Stephen Whiting, and seven others. Thank you for celebrating our 20th anniversary with us!

Anniversary Calendar

For the 12 months of 2012, the Division will be giving away 20 things each month.  Check back often for other great addiction-related giveaways. Join the celebration!

January: 20 Copies of Change your Gambling, Change your Life, by Dr. Howard Shaffer, Ryan Martin, John Kleschinsky, and Liz Neporent
February: 20 copies of Symptoms of Withdrawal, by Christopher Kennedy Lawford
March: 20 scholarships for our October CME conference, Addiction Medicine, for students
April: 20 copies of Almost Alcoholic: Is My (or My Loved One's) Drinking a Problem?, by Robert Doyle, MD, and Joseph Nowinski, PhD.
May: 20 scholarships for our online CME course, Addiction in Your Practice, for students
June: 20 copies of Overcoming Addiction: Paths toward Recovery, A Harvard Medical School Special Health Report
July: 20 copies of Almost a Psychopath: Do I (or Does Someone I Know) Have a Problem with Manipulation and Lack of Empathy?
August: 20 Signed Photographic Prints from Expressions of Addiction
September: 20 copies of Moments of Clarity, by Christopher Kennedy Lawford
October: 20 copies of Almost Addicted: Is My (or My Loved One's) Drug Use a Problem?, by J. Wesley Boyd, MD, and Eric Metcalf, MPH
November: 20 copies of Inside Rehab: The Surprising Truth about Addiction Treatment - and How to Get Help that Works by Anne Fletcher

Please stay tuned for the giveaways for the rest of the year!

Upcoming Anniversary Events

  1. Dr. Howard Shaffer's 20 Favorite Addiction-Related Things
    • Learn about Dr. Howard Shaffer's 20 favorite addiction-related things, including books, movies, photos, academic papers, organizations, and more
  2. Revealing the top 20 BASIS articles for the past 5 years
    • Learn which topics are most popular for BASIS readers. Did your work or area catch people's attention?
  3. Profiles of Great Contributors, and designation of The Division on Addiction 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award
    • Learn which people the Division on Addiction believes have made the greatest contributions to alleviating the suffering caused by addiction.

Support the Work of the Division

The Division on Addiction needs your help to better understand addiction, and to offer the training and educational programs that will lead to better prevention and treatment efforts.  Your support can help us to strengthen worldwide understanding of addiction through innovative research, education, and the global exchange of information. Please contact info@divisiononaddictions.org if you are interested in volunteering, contributing, or otherwise supporting the efforts of the Division.