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Joseph W. Ditre, Ph.D.

Joseph W. Ditre, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

506 Huntington Hall


Ph.D., University of South Florida, Clinical Psychology

Research Interests

  • Health Psychology, Addiction Psychology, and Behavioral Medicine
  • Substance Use Disorders and Chronic Medical Conditions (co-occurrence and reciprocity)
    • (e.g., Nicotine/Tobacco, Alcohol, Cannabis, Opioids, Chronic Pain, Cancer, HIV)
  • Comorbid Psychopathology and Cognitive-Affective Factors
    • (e.g., Anxiety/Depression, Catastrophizing, Coping, Fear Avoidance, Expectancies)
  • Human Experimental Models of Pain and Substance Use
    • (e.g., Psychosocial, Pathophysiological, and Neurobiological Mechanisms of Action)
  • Translation of Basic Research to Inform the Development of Novel Treatments
    • (e.g., Integrated/Sequential, Personalized Feedback, and Cue Exposure Interventions)
  • Integrated Healthcare and Primary Care-Based Research/Intervention Development
    • (e.g., Center for Integrated Healthcare, US Department of Veterans Affairs)

Biographical Sketch

Dr. Joseph W. Ditre is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Syracuse University. He is a licensed clinical psychologist, and holds secondary appointments in the Department of Medicine at Upstate Medical University, and in the Center for Integrated Healthcare at the Syracuse VA Medical Center. He is also Director of the Pain and Addiction Research (PAR) Lab, which operates out of the Central New York Medical Center in Syracuse NY.

Dr. Ditre’s research cuts across basic and applied work in the areas of health psychology and behavioral medicine, with an emphasis on the intersection of addictive behaviors and comorbid medical disorders. At the broadest level, this research examines how the use of substances may influence the onset and progression of comorbid medical disorders, and how the symptoms and sequelae of medical disorders may influence the use of addictive substances. More specifically, he has established a programmatic line of research that applies a multi-method approach to the study of complex interrelations between pain, affect, comorbid psychopathology, and the maintenance of addiction.

Dr. Ditre’s program of research has been funded by National Institutes of Health since 2007, with a primary focus on conceptualizing and testing bi-directional relations between the experience of acute and chronic pain and the self-administration of nicotine, tobacco, alcohol, cannabis, and prescription opioids.


Pain and substance use are highly prevalent and co-occurring conditions that continue to garner increasing clinical and empirical interest. Although nicotine/tobacco, alcohol, and cannabis can each confer acute analgesic effects, frequent/heavy use may contribute to the development and progression of chronic pain, and pain may be heightened during abstinence. Additionally, pain can be a potent motivator of substance self-administration, and may contribute to escalating use and poorer substance-related treatment outcomes. We integrated converging lines of evidence to propose a reciprocal model in which pain and substance use are hypothesized to interact in the manner of a positive feedback loop, resulting in the exacerbation and maintenance of both conditions over time.

Examples of completed and ongoing grant-funded projects include: examination of complex interrelations between the experience of pain and the consumption of alcohol (R01AA024844, MPI: Ditre, Maisto); testing the effects of situational pain on smoking urge and behavior (F31DA023728, PI: Ditre); testing the effects of nicotine deprivation on experimental pain reactivity (R21DA034285, PI: Ditre); and applying these data to develop novel treatments for individuals with co-occurring pain, prescription opioid misuse, and substance use disorders (R21DA038204, PI: Ditre; F31DA039628, PI: Zale). 

In addition to directing the PAR Lab, Dr. Ditre serves as instructor and research mentor for undergraduate students and graduate students in the clinical psychology doctoral program at Syracuse University. He is also on the editorial board for Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, and is a member of the Behavioral Medicine, Interventions and Outcomes Study Section (BMIO), Center for Scientific Review, National Institutes of Health.

NIH-Funded Research Projects


R01AA024844 (MPI: Ditre, Maisto)
07/2016 – 06/2021
The Alcohol-Pain Connection: Mechanisms and Genetic/Psychological Correlates
The goal of this study is to employ an innovative, multi-method approach to examine complex and potentially bidirectional relations between pain and the consumption of alcohol in one overarching experimental paradigm. This research may enhance our understanding of complex pain-alcohol relations, challenge current clinical practice paradigms, and catalyze future work in this emerging domain.

R21DA038204 (PI: Ditre)                                                                                                     
07/2014 – 06/2017
PFI for Smoking and Analgesic Misuse among Older Adults with HIV and Chronic Pain
The goal of this study was to adapt and pilot test a brief, integrated, computer-based personalized feedback intervention (PFI) for older adults with comorbid HIV and chronic pain aimed at increasing intentions to quit smoking and decreasing intentions to misuse prescription analgesic medications.

F31DA039628 (PI: Zale; Sponsor: Ditre)                                                                             
06/2015 – 05/2017
Increasing Cessation Motivation and Treatment Engagement among Smokers in Pain
The goal of this Predoctoral NRSA was to test a brief intervention for smokers with co-occurring pain that is designed to increase knowledge of pain-smoking interrelations, enhance motivation to engage a serious quit attempt, and increase engagement in available smoking cessation treatment.

R21DA034285 (PI: Ditre)                                                                                                     
08/2012 – 03/2016
Effects of Smoking Abstinence on Pain Reactivity: A Human Experimental Model
Increased pain or hyperalgesia as a function of smoking abstinence may precipitate relapse and undermine the goals of treatment for both pain and tobacco dependence. The goal of this study was to manipulate smoking abstinence to determine whether nicotine deprivation and subsequent withdrawal effects may increase pain sensitivity/reactivity among current daily smokers.

F31DA023728 (PI: Ditre)
09/2007 – 09/2009
NIH / NIDA                                                                                          
Pain as a Motivator of Smoking: Mechanisms of Action
The goal of this study was to identify potential targets for intervention by testing whether several constructs derived from social cognitive theory may moderate the causal pathway between the experience pain and increased motivation to smoke tobacco.

Selected Publications (*Student Authors)

Click on CV link above or view Google Scholar


Ditre, J. W., Zale*, E. L., & LaRowe*, L. R. (in press). A Reciprocal Model of Pain and Substance Use: Transdiagnostic Considerations, Clinical Implications, and Future Directions. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology.



Ditre, J. W., Zale*, E. L., LaRowe*, L. R., Kosiba*, J. D., & De Vita*, M. (2018). Nicotine deprivation increases pain intensity, neurogenic inflammation, and mechanical hyperalgesia among daily tobacco smokers. Journal of Abnormal Psychology. doi: 10.1037/abn0000353.

LaRowe*, L.R., Zvolensky, M.J., & Ditre, J.W. (2018). The Role of Anxiety-Relevant Transdiagnostic Factors in Comorbid Chronic Pain and Tobacco Cigarette Smoking. Cognitive Therapy and Research.

Bello, M. S., McBeth, J. F., Ditre, J. W., Kirkpatrick, M. G., Ray, L. A., Dunn, K. E., & Leventhal, A. M. (2018). Pain as a Predictor and Consequence of Tobacco Abstinence Effects amongst African American Smokers. Journal of Abnormal Psychology.

Ditre, J. W., Heckman, B. W., Zale*, E. L., Kosiba*, J. D., & Maisto, S. A. (2016). Acute analgesic effects of nicotine and tobacco in humans: A meta-analysis. Pain, 157(7), 1373-1381. doi: 10.1097/j.pain.0000000000000572.



Moskal*, D., Maisto, S. A., De Vita*, M., Ditre, J. W. (2018). Effects of experimental pain induction on alcohol urge, intention to consume alcohol, and alcohol demand. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology. 26(1), 65-76.

Paulus, D. J., Ditre, J.W., Viana, A.G., Bakhshaie, J., Garza, M., Valdivieso, J., Ochoa-Perez, M., Lemaire, C., & Zvolensky, M.J. (2018). Pain and alcohol use among Latinos in primary care: Examining rumination as an explanatory factor. Substance Use & Misuse, 53(4), 686-693, DOI: 10.1080/10826084.2017.1361998.

Zale*, E. L., Maisto, S. A., & Ditre, J. W. (2015). Interrelations between pain and alcohol: An integrative review. Clinical Psychology Review, 37, 57-71. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2015.02.005



Kosiba*, J.D., Maisto, S.A., & Ditre, J.W. Prevalence of Patient-Reported Use of Medical Cannabis for Pain, Anxiety, and Depression Symptoms: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.

Kosiba*, J.D., Mitzel*, L., Zale, E. L.,  & Ditre, J. W. Associations between discomfort intolerance, pain severity, and frequency of illicit cannabis use among individuals with chronic pain.

Manning, K., Rogers, A. H., Bakhshaie, J., Hogan, J. B., Buckner, J. D., Ditre, J. W., & Zvolensky, M. J. (2018). The association between perceived distress tolerance and cannabis use problems, cannabis withdrawal symptoms, and self-efficacy for quitting cannabis: The explanatory role of pain-related affective distress. Addictive Behaviors, 85, 1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2018.05.009.

Hill, K. P., Palastro, M. D., Johnson, B., & Ditre, J. W. (2017). Cannabis and Pain: A Clinical Review. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, 2(1), 96–104. doi: 10.1089/can.2017.0017.


Opioids and Prescription Pain Medications

Ditre, J.W., LaRowe*, L.R., Vanable, P.A., De Vita*, M.J., & Zvolensky, M.J. (in press). Computer-Based Personalized Feedback Intervention for Cigarette Smoking and Opioid Misuse among Older Persons Living with HIV (PLWH) and Chronic Pain. Behaviour Research and Therapy.

Rogers, A. H., LaRowe*, L. R., Ditre, J. W., & Zvolensky, M. J. (2018). Opioid Misuse and Perceived Smoking-Pain Relationships among HIV+ Individuals with Pain: An Exploratory Study of Negative Affect Responses to Pain. Addictive Behaviors.

LaRowe*, L. R. Chilcott*, L. N., Zvolensky, M. J., Vanable, P. A., Flood, K. & Ditre, J. W. (2018). Associations between Pain-Related Anxiety, Gender, and Prescription Opioid Misuse among Tobacco Smokers Living with HIV/AIDS. Substance Use and Misuse. doi: 10.1080/10826084.2018.1464028.

Rogers, A.H., Bakhshaie, J., Lam, H., Langdon, K.J., Ditre, J.W., Zvolensky, M.J. (2018). Pain-related anxiety and opioid misuse in a racially/ethnically diverse young adult sample with moderate/severe pain. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. doi: 10.1080/16506073.2018.1436085