University of Vermont

College of Medicine

Department of Psychiatry

Bio for Stephen T. Higgins, Ph.D.
Stephen T. Higgins, Ph.D.

Stephen T. Higgins, Ph.D.

Professor and Vice Chair
Department of Psychiatry

Contact Information
Office Location:
UVM Department of Psychiatry, Mail Stop 482OH3, 1 South Prospect Street, Burlington, VT 05401


1975: B.A. - Psychology, Shippensburg University, Shippensburg, PA
1983: Ph.D. - Child Psychology and Human Development, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
1983-1985: Postdoctoral Fellowship - Behavioral Pharmacology/Addiction, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
1985-1986: Research Fellow - Behavioral Pharmacology/Addiction, Addiction Research Center, National Institue on Drug Abuse

Academic Appointments

1968-1989: Research Assistant Professor, University of Vermont, Departments of Psychiatry & Psychology
1989-1992: Assistant Professor-tenure track, University of Vermont, Departments of Psychiatry & Psychology, 
1992-1997: Associate Professor-tenure track, University of Vermont, Departments of Psychiatry & Psychology
1997-present: Professor-tenure track, University of Vermont, Departments of Psychiatry & Psychology
2004-present: Vice Chair, Department of Psychiatry, University of Vermont
2004-present: Director, Center for Substance Abuse Research & Treatment, Department of Psychiatry, University of Vermont

Research Grants

R01DA009378 (9/30/94-3/31/2013)
(Higgins, Stephen T., P.I)
Treating Cocaine Abuse: A Behavioral Approach
Treatment development for cocaine dependence often proceeds without effort to adapt treatment parameters to patient characteristics. Such a one-size-fits-all approach is problematic because of the heterogeneity of the clinical population. Additionally, the approach is often subject to opposing biases either towards constraining costs or maximizing efficacy. Studies in this project using the CRA + Vouchers treatment for cocaine dependence are designed to explore matching treatment parameters to patient baseline characteristics known to moderate treatment response in an effort to strike a balance between those biases and thereby facilitate cost containment without compromising efficacy, especially among more severe patients.
Role: Principal Investigator

R01DA14028 (4/30/01-5/31/11)
(Higgins, Stephen, T., P.I.)
Voucher-Based Incentives to Treat Pregnant Smokers
The major goal of this project is to examine the efficacy of a voucher-based incentive program for promoting smoking cessation and preventing relapse during pregnancy and postpartum. Postpartum relapse rates are strikingly high in this population even among those abstinent during pregnancy.Thus, this population offers a potentially enlightening exception to the pattern of initial abstinence begetting later abstinence.
Role: Principal Investigator

R01DA008076 (2/01/93-2/28/11)
(Higgins, Stephen, T., P.I)
Agency: NIH/NIDA
Modeling Initial Smoking Abstinence and Relapse Risk
The overarching aim of this project is to conduct a detailed experimental analysis of whether and how varying amounts of initial smoking abstinence decrease relapse risk. Sustaining abstinence through the initial high-risk period of a cessation effort is associated with a striking and precipitous decline in relapse risk. A contingency management model permits us to overcome the methodological obstacle of gaining experimental control over the amount of initial abstinence attained, allowing experimental analysis of changes in the relative reinforcing effects of cigarette smoking.
Role: Principal Investigator

T32DA07242 (09/30/90-06/30/10
(Higgins, Stephen, T., P.I.)
Agency: NIH/NIDA
Training in Behavioral Pharmacology of Human Drug Dependence
The purpose of this grant is to train behavioral pharmacologists to empirically examine behavioral and pharmacological factors contributing to drug use, the consequences of drug use, and how that basic understanding translates to novel treatments for drug dependence.
Role: Principal Investigator

R01DA019989 (07/01/06-03/31/10)
(Sigmon, Stacey C., P.I
Agency: NIH/NIDA
Effective Treatment for Prescription Opioid Abuse
The overarching goal of this proposal is to develop a manualized, efficacious treatment for prescription opioid abuse. Despite the alarming recent increase in prescription opioid abuse, we know of no published studies evaluating treatments for this emerging population. Two experimental studies are proposed to programmatically evaluate a combined behavioral-pharmacological treatment for prescription opioid abuse. The platform behavioral treatment delivered to patients in both studies is the Community Reinforcement Approach (CRA), an efficacious therapy for promoting healthy lifestyle changes in licit and illicit drug abusers. The pharmacological treatments will be a buprenorphine detoxification followed by a regimen of naltrexone therapy. Development of efficacious treatments will help to reduce the vast economic and societal costs associated with prescription opioid abuse.
Role: Co-Investigator

Awards and Honors

1993: Joseph Cochin Young Investigator Award, College on Problems of Drug Dependence
1996: Dan Anderson Research Award, Hazelden's Butler Center for Research and Learning
1997: University Scholar Award, University of Vermont
2001-07: MERIT (Method for Extending Ressearch in Time) Award, NIH, National Institute on Drug Abuse
2001: Don Hake Basic/Applied Research Award, Division 25, American Psychological Association
2008: G. Stanley Hall Lecturer, American Psychological Association (APA) for Distinguished Contributions to Addiction
2010: University of Kansas, Department of Applied Behavioral Science's Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award
1992-present: Elected Fellow, American Psychological Association, Divisions of Psychopharmacology and Substance Abuse (Div 28), Experimental Analysis of Behavior (Div 25), Addictions (Div 50), Behavioral Neuroscience Comparative Psychology (Div 6)
2008-present: Elected Fellow, Association for Behavior Analysis International
1999: President, Division of Psychopharmacology and Substance Abuse (Div 28), American Psychological Association
2007-08: President, College on Problems of Drug Dependence


To view Dr. Higgins' publications, please visit PubMed