Michael J. Zvolensky, Ph.D.

Michael Zvolensky

Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished University Professor
Director of the Anxiety and Health Research Laboratory / Substance Use Treatment Clinic
Clinical Psychology
Ph.D., West Virginia University

Heyne Building, Room 129
713-743-8595
mjzvolen@central.uh.edu

Biographical Summary

Dr. Zvolensky is a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Psychology at University of Houston and Director of the Anxiety and Health Research Laboratory and Substance Use Treatment Clinic. He has published over 400 scholarly works on the co-occurrence of anxiety and stress-related psychopathology with substance use disorders. In this line of work, he also has examined the physical health and health behavior correlates of anxiety-substance use disorder comorbidity, including such conditions as HIV/AIDS, asthma, cardiac disease, and chronic pain. Dr. Zvolensky's work is globally aimed at eliminating inequalities in psychopathology, addictive, and other health behaviors through translational research. He has utilized a variety of methodological tactics in his research program, including community-based participatory research (CBPR), laboratory studies, epidemiologic-field (cross-national and prospective), and randomized clinical trials. He has been involved in over 45 NIH grants as PI, Co-PI, or co-investigator, and therefore, has extensive experience leading large and multi-team projects. His research program has received awards from the numerous organizations, including the American Psychological Association, Anxiety and Depression Association of America, and Association for Advancement of Cognitive and Behavior Therapy.

A major contribution of Dr. Zvolensky’s laboratory has been to elucidate why people who experience anxiety/depressive-related vulnerabilities are more prone to substance use disorders; and why people with substance use disorders are more prone to anxiety/depressive-related disturbances. His team has led efforts to develop integrative theoretical models of anxiety-substance use disorder comorbidity that identify (malleable) cognitive-affective mechanisms underlying their association. This work is important for designing targeted assessment batteries that can be used to identify high-risk individuals most in need of (specialized) intervention; elucidating mechanisms underlying anxiety/depressive-substance use disorder comorbidity; and developing 'next generation' treatments for these conditions that target the most etiologically potent facets. Within this context, Dr. Zvolensky’s work collectively falls in three, interrelated streams that deal with (a) transdiagnostic processes underlying emotional disorder-substance use disorder comorbidity; (b) mediating and moderating factors involved in the expression, onset, and maintenance of anxiety/depression psychopathology for groups subject to health inequalities; and (c) theoretically-driven and process-based treatment development work that is community-friendly.

Research Interests

  • Comorbidity of emotional disorders (anxiety, stress, depressive disorders) with substance use disorders
  • Transdiagnostic processes underlying emotional disorder-substance use disorder comorbidity
  • Mediating and moderating factors involved in the expression, onset, and maintenance of anxiety/depression psychopathology for groups subject to health inequalities
  • Theoretically-driven and process-based treatment development work that is community friendly
  • Health Inequalities in psychopathology, addictive, and other health behaviors

Teaching Interest

  • Third Wave Behavior Therapy
  • Professional Development
  • Research Methodology
  • Cultural Diversity

Selected Publications

Leventhal, A. M., & Zvolensky, M. J. (2015). Anxiety, depression, and cigarette smoking: A transdiagnostic vulnerability framework to understanding emotion-smoking comorbidity. Psychological Bulletin, 141, 176-212.

Zvolensky, M. J., Bakhshaie, J., Garza, M., Valdivieso, J., Ortiz, M., Bogiaizian, D., Robels, Z., & Vujanovic, A. (2015). Anxiety sensitivity and subjective social status in relation to anxiety and depressive symptoms and disorders among Latinos in primary care. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 32, 38-45.

Zvolensky, M. J., Farris, S. G., Kotov, R., Schechter, C. B., Bromet, E., Gonzalez, A., Vujanovic, A., Pietrzak, R., Crane, M., Kaplan, J., Moline, J., Southwick, S. M., Feder, A., Udasin, I., Reissman, D. B., & Luft, B. J. (2015). World Trade Center Disaster and sensitization to subsequent life stress: A longitudinal study of disaster responders. Preventive Medicine, 75, 70-74.

Buckner, J. D., Zvolensky, M. J., Crosby, R. D., Wonderlich, S. A., Ecker, A. H., & Richter, A. (2015). Antecedents and consequences of cannabis use among racially diverse cannabis users: An analysis from ecological momentary assessment. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 147, 20-25.

Zvolensky, M. J., Farris, S. G., Guillot, C. R., & Leventhal, A. M. (2014). Anxiety sensitivity as an amplifier of subjective and behavioral tobacco abstinence effects. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 142, 224-230.

Zvolensky, M. J., Farris, S. G., Leventhal, A. M., & Schmidt, N. B. (2014). Anxiety sensitivity mediates relations between emotional disorders and smoking. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 28, 912-920.