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Richard Grucza, PhD, MPE

Current Position
Professor of Psychiatry

University Roles
Scholar, Institute for Public Health

Education and Training
B.S. Rochester Institute of Technology, 1989
M.S. Pennsylvania State University, 1991
Ph. D. Washington University, 2000
Master in Psychiatric Epidemiology, Washington University, 2003

Major Awards
Walter G. Klopfer Award for distinguished contribution to the literature in personality assessment


Areas of Research Interests
My research focuses on policy and other environmental influences on substance use disorders, alcohol use and smoking. This usually involves work with major epidemiological and administrative data sources.

Active projects:

(1.) The role of smoking in suicide risk. While is is traditionally believed that smoking is a correlate, but not a contributing cause for suicide and mental illness, evidence is mounting that smoking may contribute to worsening mental health and therefore to suicide risk. We are using tobacco control policy change as a natural experiment to help disentangle this relationship.

(2.) Cannabis use and suicidal behaviors. Many investigators believe that cannabis can contribute to poor mental health and possibly suicide risk among vulnerable individuals, but the magnitude of any such effect is debated. We are examining whether medical or recreational legalization of cannabis has led to increases in clinically significant suicide attempts and related mental health outcomes. We are also exploring other consequences--both negative and positive--of cannabis policy liberalization.

Developing projects:

(3.) Trends in adolescent health risk behaviors: Downward trends in juvenile delinquency, use of most drugs, binge drinking and other behaviors have been noted by numerous investigators, but no systematic research has asked if these trends are related. We hypothesize that there has been a marked decline in "Externalizing" -- a hypothesized trait correlated with propensity for adolescents to engage in multiple risk behaviors. A pending grant proposal will test this hypothesis and begin to explore possible causes for this trend.

(4.) Pharmacoepidemiology of Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) for adolescent and young adult opioid use disorders. Under-utilization of evidence-based treatment for opioid use disorders is a serious concern in Medicine and Public Health. The problem is particularly serious for adolescents and young adults. Our goal is to quantify this treatment disparity and to use administrative data to examine whether the apparent effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of MAT is similar in adolescents and young adults compared to older adults.

Key Publications
Grucza RA, (2017 Jun). Changing Demographics of Marijuana Initiation: Bad News or Good? Am J Public Health. 107(6): 833-834.  Full Article ->

Grucza RA, Agrawal A, Krauss MJ, Bongu J, Plunk AD, Cavazos-Rehg PA, Bierut LJ, (2016 Jun). Declining Prevalence of Marijuana Use Disorders Among Adolescents in the United States, 2002 to 2013. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 55(6): 487-494.e6.  Full Article ->

Plunk AD, Krauss MJ, Syed-Mohammed H, Hur M, Cavzos-Rehg PA, Bierut LJ, Grucza RA, (2016 Aug). The Impact of the Minimum Legal Drinking Age on Alcohol-Related Chronic Disease Mortality. Alcohol. Clin. Exp. Res.. 40(8): 1761-8.  Full Article ->

Grucza RA, Hur M, Agrawal A, Krauss MJ, Plunk AD, Cavazos-Rehg PA, Chaloupka FJ, Bierut LJ, (2015 Jul). A reexamination of medical marijuana policies in relation to suicide risk. Drug Alcohol Depend. 152: 68-72.  Full Article ->

Grucza RA, Plunk AD, Krauss MJ, Cavazos-Rehg PA, Deak J, Gebhardt K, Chaloupka FJ, Bierut LJ, (2014 Nov). Probing the smoking-suicide association: do smoking policy interventions affect suicide risk? Nicotine Tob. Res.. 16(11): 1487-94.  Full Article ->

Grucza RA, Plunk AD, Hipp PR, Cavazos-Rehg P, Krauss MJ, Brownson RC, Bierut LJ, (2013 Aug). Long-term effects of laws governing youth access to tobacco. Am J Public Health. 103(8): 1493-9.  Full Article ->

Funded Research Projects
NIDA(PI): Smoking, Suicide, and Mental Health: Using Policy Change to Probe Causality.

NIDA (MPI): Cannabis, Depression and Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors.