When drinking can lead to serious problems for your brain: Texas Tech University
Health Sciences Center establishes chair for Addiction Medicine
August 25, 2006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 16, 2006
CONTACT: Suzanna Cisneros Martinez, firstname.lastname@example.org
LUBBOCK – When is drinking a problem? Recently many Americans were exposed to the
media frenzy of whether or not actor Mel Gibson has a drinking problem. Substance
abuse, whether alcohol or other substances, can have major short- and long- term impact
on the abuser’s life and those around them.
According to national studies by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration,
half of the U.S. population older than the age 12 drank alcohol in the past 30 days
and 23 percent had engaged in binge drinking in that time period. In 2001, approximately
75,000 deaths were attributable to excessive alcohol use. According to the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention, excessive alcohol use is the third leading lifestyle-related
cause of death for people in the United States each year. Problems related to the
excessive consumption of alcohol cost an estimated $185 billion annually.
With alcohol and other substance use disorders affecting so many, Texas Tech University
Health Sciences Center has made addiction medicine a focus in the Department of Neuropsychiatry
and Behavioral Sciences by creating the Giles C. McCrary Endowed Chair in Addiction
Gregory W. Schrimsher, Ph.D., assistant professor in the department was named as the
Endowed Chair in Addiction Medicine. One focus of his work will be to assess the substance
use treatment needs in the area, including rural counties in the area and to attempt
to implement treatment programs to best meet these needs. His major area of research
interest is the relation between alcohol and substance use and its short- and long-
term impact on cognitive abilities and functioning.
“Cognitive abilities are affected by alcohol and substance use, and the size and duration
of the effect depends on how often, how much and for how long someone has been using,”
Schrimsher said. “These effects can be especially strong with regard to memory and
attention. This endowed chair will allow us to examine the cognitive effects of substance
use and how these effects impact our treatment efforts. Also, we will examine whether
the effects can be reversed or whether they place people at risk for future problems
such as dementia.”
Randolph B. Schiffer, M.D., chair of the Department of Neuropsychiatry and Behavioral
Sciences at the Health Sciences Center School of Medicine, said there is a great need
to provide a clinical and research program in addiction medicine.
“There is a great complexity to the diagnosis and treatment of those suffering from
addictive disorders. Dr. Schrimsher’s expertise, research and contributions to the
field of addiction medicine will lead the way to find answers to important research
questions for those suffering from addiction,” Schiffer said.
Schrimsher served as a staff psychologist at the G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VA Medical
Center in Jackson, MS and a clinical assistant professor in Psychiatry and Human Behavior
at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. He received his doctorate in clinical
psychology from the University of Houston. Additionally, he has a doctorate in neuroscience
from the University of Florida College of Medicine.
Schrimsher has clinical experience in substance use disorder treatment in both hospital
residential and community mental health intensive outpatient treatment including individual
and group cognitive-behaviorally based treatments. This work includes extensive experience
with patients with dual-diagnoses and multi-ethnic patient populations.