Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School

Currently, Dr. Shaffer is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School; in addition, he is the Director of the Division on Addictions at The Cambridge Health Alliance, a Harvard Medical School teaching affiliate. During recent years, he has served as principal or co-principal investigator on a variety of government or foundation sponsored research projects. Currently, he focuses his efforts on the clinical, research and educational activities associated with his research dealing with psychiatric epidemiology, the identification of behavioral markers for addiction, homelessness, and psychiatric co-morbidity among multiple DUI offenders.

Dr. Shaffer is the founder of the American Academy of Health Care Providers in the Addictive Disorders. The Academy represents the first international credentialing body for clinicians working in the addictive disorders. He also was a founder of the Transparency Project, the world’s first data repository for privately funded addiction research.

Dr. Shaffer served on the National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council, Committee on the Social and Economic Impacts of Pathological Gambling. His professional appointments also have included consultation to the National Institutes of Health, The National Cancer Institute, The National Council on Marijuana and Health, The Icelandic Ministry of Health and Social Security, The Massachusetts Council on Compulsive Gambling, and The Massachusetts Departments of Mental and Public Health. For five years, Dr. Shaffer served as chair of the education committee for The Cambridge Hospital department of Psychiatry. For two years, he served as a senior scientist at the National Technical Center for Substance Abuse Needs Assessment. Dr. Shaffer also served as the chief psychologist at the North Charles Institute for the Addictions for 13 years. He served as the Director of Drug Problems Resource Center at The Cambridge Hospital; he was Director of the Special Consultation and Treatment Program for Women at the Judge Gould Institute of Human Resources.

Dr. Shaffer is the editor of the American Psychological Association’s Addiction Syndrome Handbook, which is in press. He is the lead author of another new book that is in press: Change your gambling, change your life: strategies for managing gambling and improving your finances, relationships and health. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

He is the past editor of The Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, and The Journal of Gambling Studies; he is past associate editor of The Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. Dr. Shaffer also has served as a member of the many editorial boards, including the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, Advances in Alcohol and Substance Abuse, and Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity. Dr. Shaffer has served as an ad hoc reviewer for many journals including the New England Journal of Medicine and the Archives of General Psychiatry. Dr. Shaffer also is the creator of Expressions of Addiction, a fine art photography project depicting the lives and struggles of people with addiction (

Dr. Shaffer’s major research interests include, the social perception of addiction and disease, the philosophy of science, impulse control regulation and compulsive behaviors, gambling disorders, addiction treatment outcome, and the natural history of addictive behaviors. Dr. Shaffer has written extensively about the treatment of addictive behaviors and the nature of addiction, including more than 200 chapters, journal articles, and reviews. He also has published more than 120 newspaper articles, and 22 books or monographs.

“It’s going to be very important for us to understand that driving under the influence isn’t the result of only alcohol use,” says Dr. Shaffer. “Driving under the influence is the result of all kinds of issues, including mental health issues, social issues, and factors that impact others to make decisions that aren’t in their best interest or in the public’s best interest.” We invite you to learn more about Dr. Shaffer and the work he does.

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Dr. Howard Shaffer on his work in drunk                               Dr. Howard Shaffer on inspiration and
driving research                                                            changes he would like to see

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