David Hodgins is a professor in U Calgary’s Department of Psychology who studies what it takes to recover from addictions. The core aspect of addiction, whether it is to alcohol, opioids, gambling or video games, is a feeling of impaired control. Despite good intentions, individuals engage in their addiction more often or longer than they intend. And they continue their engagement despite the inevitable negative health, family, social and other consequences. However, individuals also successfully stop or reduce their engagement, sometimes for short periods, sometimes for longer periods, and often forever. Some people do this “on their own”, and some rely on the support from treatment professionals or peers in recovery. Hodgins’ research focuses on the similarities and differences in various pathways to recovery, with special emphasis on gambling addiction. What motivates people, and how do they do it?
In his personal live Dr. Hodgins was inspired by strong successful role models for recovery from addictions so when a clinical placement in a treatment facility became available early in his training, he was already confident that people can overcome this very challenging disorder. The path to recovery is rarely a smooth one, although the destination is achievable.
He began his career working clinically with addictions at Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary, which led to a natural segue to the Department of Psychology, with its strong clinical psychology program. The University of Calgary’s strategic plans for the past number of years have included mental health, which has supported the development of a growing addiction research cadre. The province of Alberta also funds the Alberta Gambling Research Institute, which has allowed Alberta researchers to be world leaders in addressing gambling addiction.