Warren Bickel, a professor at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, thinks the addiction treatment system in the United States is largely broken. Bickel, director of the institute’s Addiction Recovery Research Center, has dedicated his professional life to carrying out research on how and why people make the choices that lead from addiction to recovery.

The Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research recently recognized Bickel and his work by selecting him as a fellow. The organization, founded in 1978 by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, is an honorary society with a highly selective nomination process.

“I’m deeply honored to receive the recognition,” said Bickel, who is also a professor in the Department of Psychology at Virginia Tech. 

The Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research was founded specifically to encourage senior scientists and leaders in the field to exchange ideas and collaborate scientifically. Bickel, already a prolific researcher with 26 papers published or in press in 2014 alone, is looking forward to contributing more to the discussion of behavioral medicine.

“We treat addiction as an acute illness, but it’s a chronic problem,” Bickel has often said.

Bickel explores how and why people decide to use drugs or alcohol or engage in other risky behavior through understanding how they value events arrayed in time. He studies discounting of delayed rewards - why a person might decide a quick fix now is worth more than other long-term rewards, such as health. His eventual hope is that his research will lead to new interventions to help people with addiction.

“The Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research is an honorary society for eminent senior scientists whose research is at the interface of behavior and medicine,” said Michael Friedlander, executive director of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute. “Election to the society is a highly selective process for those who have made substantial contributions that have been recognized at the national and international levels.

“We are very fortunate to have Warren at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute,” Friedlander said. “He brings well-deserved recognition to himself and the entire research enterprise at the institute. He’s an outstanding colleague.”

Bickel has a bachelor's degree from State University of New York at New Paltz. He earned his master's degree and his doctoral from the University of Kansas

Written by Ashley WennersHerron.
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