We are a research lab at the School of Psychological Science at the Oregon State University led by Dr. Sarah Dermody. In the Health Equity and Addiction Lab (HEAL), we examine addiction risk from a multidisciplinary perspective—integrating psychological, behavioral, interpersonal, and biological risk factors to better understand the “how, when, why, and who” pertaining addiction risk and risk for other negative health behaviors.
Much of our research focuses on problematic usage patterns of alcohol and nicotine-containing products like cigarettes. Alcohol and cigarettes are two of the leading preventable causes of death in the world! And when these substances are used together, which is often the case, the health-related harms are even further magnified. This leaves people who drink alcohol and smoke in a position where it is critical for them to reduce or stop their use, but they often have difficulty doing so. Importantly, there are subgroups that are at particularly high risk for using these substances and experiencing the associated harms. Thus, our mission is also to ensure that our research helps individuals from diverse backgrounds.
HEAL is working on ways to help individuals improve their health by tackling their addictions to substances. In one line of research, we are reanalyzing daily electronic diary data from daily smokers who are trying to quit smoking to determine how alcohol interferes with their ability to quit smoking. We are also collecting data to investigate how alcohol interventions can also help individuals quit smoking in a number of ways. Furthermore, we are investigating specific subgroups, specifically sexual minority youth, who are at risk for using multiple substances in order to develop tailored interventions to improve their health and well-being.