Erin Woodhead


Erin Woodhead


Department of Psychology  




clinical geropsychology; substance use; aging; mental health; longitudinal data

Current Research Activities

My primary line of research is around substance use and aging. My background is in mental health and aging, and through my work with the VA Palo Alto I've started to examine research questions related to how substance use outcomes are related to age. For example, some recent questions I've been asking are about age-related differences in motives for using drugs and alcohol and what patient factors influence the effectiveness of brief interventions for substance use.

Research Connections to Current Events

There is an increasing interest in aging and substance use, particularly in light of research suggesting that the current cohort of older adults are using drugs and alcohol at higher rates than previous generations of older adults. The opioid crisis is also receiving a lot of media attention recently, and I've been able to access data sets through the VA that examine outcomes for individuals in detoxification treatment for alcohol or opioid use, and those living in rural areas of the country who are using stimulant drugs. This allows me to answer timely questions about whether older adults and younger adults are similar or different in terms of treatment outcomes.

Personal Connections to Research

I originally became interested in working with older adults when my grandfather was in the hospital following a stroke. That happened when I was an undergraduate and I've been committed to integrating aging content into psychology courses since then. In terms of substance use research, I'm inspired by researchers like Dr. Carl Hart who challenge some of the information that is produced by the media about substance use.

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