Jen Betts

Dr. Jen Betts is an Advanced Addictions Fellow supported by federal funding through the VA and working with UW-CTRI Researchers Dr. Jess Cook and Dr. Megan Piper to study tobacco addiction.

Specifically, she’s examining data from Cook on anhedonia to understand how reward processes relate to tobacco treatment outcomes. She’s also interested in other motivations to smoke and vape, including variables such as environmental context, craving, and affect. Her dissertation studied dual users of tobacco cigarettes and electronic cigarettes, and she will work with Piper to further understand dual use and how it may change over time.

After completing her undergraduate coursework at Tufts University (20 minutes from Boston), Betts earned her PhD in clinical psychology at the University of Buffalo, mentored by Dr. Stephen Tiffany. Tiffany was mentored by UW-CTRI Associate Director Dr. Tim Baker.

“I’ve been following UW-CTRI research for years,” Betts said. “It’s a bit surreal that I get to be here and talk to these researchers about my own research.”

For her dissertation, she surveyed 102 dual users nationwide, and found that the probability of vaping instead of smoking appeared to be associated with smoking bans. Social cues and norms may be a factor, she said. She found significant craving for both tobacco and e-cigarettes, including the latest vaping devices such as JUUL and Puff Bar, which could be indicative of those devices’ ability to efficiently deliver nicotine.

Betts will spend two days a week at the Madison VA, seeing patients via the Alcohol and Drug Treatment Program and Dialectical Behavior Therapy Clinic, in part so she can earn her state license as a clinical psychologist. She recently completed her predoctoral internship at the Boston VA Healthcare System in the Addictions and Co-Occurring Disorders track.

Dr. Jen Betts
Jen Betts, PhD