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Center for Compulsive Behavior and Addiction

The Center for Compulsive Behavior and Addiction supports the research, education and community outreach efforts of Rush University in the areas of drug and alcohol abuse, problem gambling and other behavioral addictions, impulse control disorders and compulsive behaviors. 


Our research-related initiatives involve active working groups/research teams from across the Rush University campus, including the departments of Neurological Sciences, Psychiatry, Gastroenterology, Neuroscience, Immunology and Pharmacology. Preclinical research efforts are enhanced by the center’s Facility for Rodent Models of Human Brain Disease.

Collaborative projects include impulse control disorders in Parkinson’s disease, substance use disorders and HIV/AIDS and involvement of the brain/gut axis in pathology induced by psychostimulants.


An addictions workgroup is integrating addiction education into the Rush Medical College experience to optimize the identification and treatment of addictions among various medical specialties. The workgroup comprises Bezalel Dantz, MD, Gail Basch, MD, and T. Celeste Napier, PhD, as standing members, as well as two medical students (M1 and M2) as rotating members.

In addition, the Center sponsors or co-sponsors various educational seminars and conferences at Rush to encourage the integration of addiction-related topics throughout the campus. (See the list of upcoming events below.)

Community outreach

The center is working with the Robert Crown Center for Health Education, a 501c3 nonprofit organization in Hinsdale, Ill., to develop and implement substance abuse prevention education programs for middle and high schools. Graduate students in the Graduate College of Rush University are involved in the scientific portion of curriculum development.

In addition, the center works with the Robert Crown Center on summer camps that address addiction prevention and healthy decision-making education:

  • Body Trek Summer Camp, which is a science-based camp for 6-8th grade children. 
  • Happy to Be Me! Summer Camp for Girls, which teaches girls entering grades 6 and 7 how our brains guide our unique interests and choices, stress management and positive communication skills.

Upcoming events

The Chicago Department of Public Health and the Center for Compulsive Behavior and Addiction at Rush University are co-sponsoring a full-day medical education conference that will focus on managing opioids for pain and treating opioid use disorder. This will be held on Tuesday, February 13, 2018, 9am-4:30pm at the Rush University Medical Center Searle Conference Center. Target audience includes primary care providers, ER providers and hospitalists, behavioral health providers, nurses and support staff working in medical settings (continuing education credits available).

Using both didactic and interactive formats taught by Chicago-area expert practitioners, the meeting will cover evidence-based approaches to these critical health issues. Below is an outline of speakers and topics to be covered:


- Public Health Response: Elizabeth Salisbury-Afshar MD, MPH

- Neurobiology of Pain and Addiction: T. Celeste Napier, PhD

- Acute Pain Management: Jonah Stulberg, MD, MPH, PhD

- Chronic Pain: Ankur Dave, MD

- Opioid Use Disorder Diagnosis and Treatment: Chris Holden, MD

- Harm Reduction: Role in Clinical Care: Gabriela Zapata-Alma, LCSW, CADC

- Highlights of Health System Response: Niranjan Karnik, MD, Mike Nelson, MD & - Amanda Brooks, LCSW, CADC

Plenary Session: New Therapies on the Horizon, Frank Vocci, PhD

Break-out Sessions

- Acute Pain Management and Opioid Use: Jonah Stulberg, MD; Mike Nelson, MD

- Chronic Pain Management: Challenges and Solutions: Ankur Dave, MD; Evelyn Figueroa, MD

- Modern Treatment Modalities for Opioid Use Disorders: Elizabeth Salisbury-Afshar, MD MPH; Amanda Brooks, LCSW, CADC

- Integrating Harm Reduction into Clinical Care: Gabriela Zapata-Alma, LCSW, CADC; Wesley Cook, DO

- Opioid-Related Challenges in Inpatient Care: Gail Basch MD, Katy Perticone APN, Henry Swoboda, MD

For registration, see:

Our team

T. Celeste Napier, PhD
Center Director

Amanda L. Persons, PhD
Director, Facility for Rodent Models of Human Brain Disease