We are a multidisciplinary team that examines the intersection between health behavior, mental health, and addiction.
We address essential questions, like:
  • Why are some people more likely to use and abuse drugs?
  • How do drugs alter the way we think, feel, and behave?
  • What makes something addictive?
By answering these questions we can:
  • 1. Understand and reduce health disparities in cancer and other addiction-related diseases.
  • 2. Prevent and treat addiction and associated mental health problems.
  • 3. Identify the basic mechanisms of emotion and motivation.

Adam Leventhal appointed to FDA committee on tobacco products

Adam Leventhal, PhD, professor of preventive medicine and psychology and Director of the USC Institute for Addiction Science and Health, Emotion & Addiction Laboratory (HEAL), has been appointed to the FDA’s Tobacco Products Scientific Advisory Committee. 

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The  USC Experts on the Front Lines of the Opioid Epidemic

Nearly 400,000 people in America died from opioid overdose from 1999-2017. USC experts believe they can stem the tide.

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The Hidden Harms of Racial Bullying

A U.S. News analysis shows a link between bias-related harassment and risky health behaviors by victims, which can contribute to dire consequences later in life.

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What Makes People Smoke? Disadvantages in life, USC study shows

The more disadvantages you face, the more likely you are to smoke — and have difficulty quitting, according to a new USC study in JAMA Internal Medicine that sheds light on groups that are resistant to anti-smoking efforts.

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High-Nicotine E-Cigs May Be Gateway to Smoking for Teens

Teens who vape e-cigarettes with higher nicotine levels are more likely to start smoking conventional cigarettes soon after, new research shows.

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E-cigarettes Use in Youth Considered Emerging Public Health Concern

The 2016 U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on e-cigarette use among youth and young adults comprehensively reviews the public health issue of electronic cigarettes and their impact on our nation’s young people.Over the last half century, the U.S. Surgeon General has released 32 comprehensive reports outlining the impact of tobacco use on this nation’s health and well-being. The 33rd report, which addresses e-cigarette use among youth and young adults, adds significant data and analysis to the science of this important public health issue.

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Teen vaping assoicated wtih future cigarette use

High school students who vape at the start of a school year are more likely to become heavy smokers by the end, compared to their peers who don’t vape, according to new research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Jungeun Olivia Lee, Ph.D., MSW Socioeconomic Status and Behavioral Health

Nov 14th, 3:30 pm – 5:00 pm
SSB Room 301
2011 N. Soto Street

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Dr. Matthew Kirkpatrick awarded the Young Psychopharmacologist Award

Congratulations to Dr. Kirkpatrick for receiving the Young Psychopharmacologist Award at APA’s 2016 Division 28 Psychopharmacology and Substance Abuse Convention!

HEAL Research used in TV Spot

An recent publication by HEAL in JAMA was featured in a Television spot by the California Department of Public Health.

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Teen vapers have easy time buying supplies online

Research has shown that online purchasing of liquid nicotine and electronic cigarettes is largely unregulated, as many teens have been buying such products through online vendors. Director of USC-HEAL, Dr. Adam Leventhal, explains that this is highly dangerous because teens who are purchasing the e-cigarettes may have younger siblings who could be at risk of swallowing the liquids, which can be deadly.

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WIRED Interview on Vaping

WIRED magazine writer, Brent Rose, interviews Dr. Adam Leventhal regarding the potential health effects of vaping.

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ACS Relay For Life of USC Event

Dr. Adam Leventhal will be speaking at the American Cancer Society Relay For Life event on Sunday, April 3rd at 10:00am. The event is open to the public, and will take place on April 2-3 at Cromwell Track & Field.

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How to be a Prolific Addictions Researcher and Maintain Balance in your Life

The Society of Addiction Psychology (SoAP) Live Podcast with Dr. Adam Leventhal, a clinical psychologist and associate professor at the University of Southern California. He directs the USC Health, Emotion, and Addiction Laboratory (HEAL), a research group that studies the intersection of mental health, addiction, and health behavior, with interests spanning psychopharmacology, developmental psychopathology, and epidemiology of addiction.

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The Sociopharmacology of Tobacco Addiction: Implications for Understanding Health Disparities

This article released in the February issue of nicotine and tobacco research by HEAL director Adam Leventhal on Sociopharmacology selected as a editors choice article and accompanied by a editorial by Dr. Brian Hitsman.

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Teenagers Who Try E-Cigarettes Are More Than Twice as Likely to Start Smoking

There is a lot of debate about the use of e-cigarettes, however longitudinal studies have provided evidence that adolescents who use e-cigarettes have an increased likelihood that they will then progress to smoking traditional cigarettes, as suggested by results from surveys following high school students in Hawaii conduced by Wills and colleagues. Such results are consistent with those from USC-HEAL lab’s study conducted in Los Angeles High Schools.

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Junhan Cho, Ph.D. Parent and Youth Dopamine D4 Receptor Genotypes Moderate Multilevel Contextual Effects on Youth’s Risk Behavior

Jan 22nd, 3:45 pm – 5:00 pm
SSB2 Room 2904
2011 N. Soto Street

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Teen Smokers May Be Hard-Wired to Crave Cigarettes

Teen smokers might crave nicotine in part because their brains respond differently than adults to seeing people light up.

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Teens with Fewer Mental Health Issues Turn to E-Cigarettes

Adolescents with moderate emotional health problems do not smoke, but they may vape, USC-HEAL study finds. Surveyed teens who picked up vaping had emotional and behavioral problems that fell midway between smokers and teens who neither vaped nor smoked.

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Genes May Make It Harder for Some to Quit Smoking

A story by the American Cancer Society featured Adam Leventhal, PhD, associate professor and director of USC HEAL, on the role genetics play in tobacco addiction. “We need to have a better understanding of the biology of tobacco addiction, particularly in this high-priority population,” Leventhal said.

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Healthy Debate

New Beginnings: Better Vagal Maneuvers for Arrhythmias and eCigarettes in Adolescents

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Teens who use e-cigarettes may be transitioning to tobacco products, research shows

A multi-university team led by Keck Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) researchers has found, for the first time, that using or “vaping” of electronic cigarettes is associated with a propensity to start smoking cigarettes or other, harmful tobacco products.

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The University of Southern California – Institute for Addiction Science (IAS), Tobacco Center for Regulatory Science (TCORS), and HEAL co-host a series of talks from front-line addiction researchers. See below for the full list of 2019-2020 speakers. 

Michael Chaiton, Ph.D., scientist at the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit and Associate Professor at University of Toronto.

Date: 8/30/19 @ 12:30pm in SSB 301. Talk flyer.

Stephen Patrick, M.D., Director of the Vanderbilt Center for Child Health Policy, Associate Professor at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, and attending neonatologist at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.

Date: 9/19/19 @ 11:00am in MRF Hamovitch (UPC). Talk flyer.

Steve Higgins, Director and Professor, University of Vermont Center for Behavior and Health.

Date1/10/19 @ 12pm in CSC 250. Talk announcement here.
Video recording of talk:
Part 1 – https://youtu.be/pxFvTtUB4Z8
Part 2 – https://youtu.be/GEtjYY5KhVU

Expertise: Behavioral economics, opioid use disorder treatment, health disparities, tobacco regulatory science.

Richard Miech, Principal Investigator of the US Monitoring the Future Study and Professor, University of Michigan Survey Research Center

Date: 2/15/19 @ 1:30pm in SSB 117. Talk announcement here.
Video recording of talk: https://youtu.be/zeO1LGLdA0c 

Expertise: Youth and young adult substance use epidemiology, survey methods.

Eric Pedersen, Senior Behavioral Scientist, RAND Corporation

Date: 3/22/19 @ 1:30pm in SSB 117. Talk flyer.

Expertise: Young adult/adolescent alcohol use and comorbid mental health disorders.

Dustin Duncan, Director, NYU Spatial Epidemiology Research Lab

Date: 3/27/19 @ 9:00am in SST-2904 (Soto Building II). Talk flyer.

Expertise: LBGTQ populations, disparities, neighborhood effects on behavior, risky sex behavior

Katie Witkiweitz, Professor University of New Mexico, Area Chair for Quantitative Psychology

Date: 4/19/19 @ 1:00pm in MRF Hamovitch (UPC). Talk flyer.

Video recording of talk:

Expertise: Alcohol use treatment, mindfulness/meditation, longitudinal data analysis

Edythe London, Director of UCLA Laboratory of Molecular Pharmacology

Date: 5/17/19 @ 11:30am in SSB 301. Talk flyer.

Expertise: Neuroscience of addiction, decision making, self-control, neuropharmacology

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