Richard Grucza

Professor of Psychiatry

Additional Titles & Roles

  • Scholar, Institute for Public Health

Education & Training

  • MPE: Washington University, St. Louis, MO, 2003
  • PhD: Washington University, St. Louis, MO, 2000
  • MS: Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA, 1991
  • BS: Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY, 1989

Major Awards

  • Walter G. Klopfer Award for distinguished contribution to the literature in personality assessment,

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.

(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.

(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.

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Key Publications

Funded Research Projects

NIAAA (PI) Using Temporal Variation in Risk Behavior to Understand Trends in Adolescent Alcohol Misuse/

NIDA (PI): Age-Related Disparities in Medication Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorders

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

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

NIDA (Co-I) Adolescent Marijuana Use and Marijuana Possession Arrests: Have Changes in Marijuana Policy Affected Disparities Between Blacks and Whites?