Exploring the Psychology of Drug Addiction with William Stoops

“We are doing research funded by the National Institutes of Health, so at the end of the day, even if we're doing basic science research, we are contributing information that is going to positively impact the health of the taxpayer and the health of your fellow citizens. You should enjoy being able to do that and have that privilege to do that work.”

This is the perspective of William Stoops, a professor in the UK College of Medicine. UK substance abuse researchers, like Stoops, have a track record of successfully securing NIH funds for their projects. In 2017, 10 percent of all federal grants to the University of Kentucky were in the area of substance abuse.

Stoops credits his mentors at UK—Craig Rush (Behavioral Science) and Sharon Walsh (Center on Drug and Alcohol Research)—with developing his research and mentoring skills. He has focused on prescription stimulants, opioids, alcohol use, and cocaine use. In a new project, thanks to $2.9 million from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Stoops will compare the health effects of reduced cocaine use with abstinence.

“There's been new data to suggest that overdose rates for cocaine, specifically in African-Americans, are at the same level as they are for opioid overdose in non-African-Americans. We don't have a way to reverse cocaine overdose the way we do for opioid overdose. We don't have any effective treatments. So, I see an unmet need.”

Listen to the podcast to learn more on how Stoops chose drug abuse research, why mentoring is one of his favorite parts of his job, and how the “can do” attitude across campus impacts success. Also see his People Behind Our Research video