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Campus Address:
750 East Adams Street
Syracuse, NY 13210

Main Campus Phone:
315 464-5540

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315 464-4000

Upstate Connect:
315 464-8668

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Brian Johnson, MD

Brian Johnson, MD
Appointed 04/01/08
205 Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Building
713 Harrison Street
Syracuse, NY 13210

315 464-3130

Current Appointments

Hospital Campus

  • Downtown

Clinical Section Affiliations

  • Anesthesiology: Pain Treatment

Research Programs and Affiliations

  • Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Education & Fellowships

  • Residency: Cambridge Hospital, 1981, Psychiatry
  • Residency: Metropolitan Hospital Center, 1977, Medicine
  • Internship: Harlem Hospital, 1976
  • MD: New York Medical College, 1976
  • BS: Columbia University, 1972

Research Interests

  • The goal of Dr. Johnson’s research is to understand how opioids exert their effects by addressing clinical challenges that appear unrelated but are unified by an innovative theory.  We propose a theory that unifies the nature of these disorders by assuming that each involves a dysregulation of the opioid system based on data suggesting that opioid dependence and fibromyalgia are associated with low opioid tone whereas autism is associated with high opioid tone.  Our first challenge, therefore, is to create and validate a treatment for opioid dependence that corrects persistent hormonal changes after detoxification.  Our second challenge is to treat fibromyalgia.  Our third challenge is to assess whether autism is a disease of too-high opioid tone by blocking excess opioid stimulation to treat the symptoms.  Opioid dependence, fibromyalgia, and autism are three disorders that cause much distress and disability but are difficult to treat.  We test our theory by treating opioid dependence and fibromyalgia with low-dose naltrexone and autism with high-dose naltrexone.  Our theory suggests a novel approach that could improve the quality of life of patients suffering from these debilitating disorders.

Specialties & Certification

  • Psychiatry
  • Addiction Medicine
  • Psychiatry and Neurology
  • Addiction Psychiatry

Diseases & Conditions Treated

  • Alcohol Abuse
  • Alcohol Dependence
  • Prescription Drug Abuse


  • Adults and Children


  • Diagnostic Assessment
  • Individual Psychotherapy
  • Outpatient Detoxification
  • Psychopharmacology

Current Hospital Privileges

  • Upstate University Hospital

HealthLinkOnAir Radio Interview

8/5/12 New study for failed back surgery syndrome


Link to PubMed External Icon (Opens new window. Close the PubMed window to return to this page.)



Ramanathan, S., Panksepp, J., Johnson, B. Is fibromyalgia an endocrine/endorphin deficit disorder? - Is low dose naltrexone a new treatment option? Psychosomatics, April 3, 2012

Johnson, B. Psychoanalytic treatment of psychological addiction to alcohol (alcohol abuse). Frontiers in Psychology 2011;2:article 362

Johnson, B. The Psychoanalysis of a Man With Heroin Dependence; Implications for Neurobiological Theories of Attachment and Drug Craving. Neuropsychoanalysis 2010;12:207-15.

Johnson, B.  A 'neuropsychoanalytic' treatment of a patient with cocaine dependence. Neuropsychoanalysis 2009;11:151-67.

Streltzer, J., Zigler, P., Johnson, B. Cautionary guidelines for the use of opioids in chronic pain, American Journal on Addiction 2009;18:1-4. 

Johnson, B. Just what lies beyond the pleasure principle? Neuropsychoanalysis 2008;10:201-12.

Johnson, B., Bursztajn, H. J., Paul, R., Coletsos, I.  Reducing the risk of addiction to prescribed medications.  Psychiatric Times 2007; 24, #5:35-8.

Johnson, B. Commentary on Simon Boag's "Freudian dream theory, dream bizarreness and the disguise-censor controversy." Neuro-Psychoanalysis 2006; 8:33-40

Jones, D.S., Krotick, S., Johnson, B., Morrison, A.P. Clinical challenge: Waiting for rescue, an attorney who will not advocate for himself. Harvard Review of Psychiatry 2005:13;344-56.

Johnson, B. Psychological addiction, physical addiction, addictive character, addictive personality disorder: a new nosology of addiction. Canadian Journal of Psychoanalysis 2003;11:135-160.

Johnson, B. A Neuropsychoanalytic approach to addiction. Neuro-Psychoanalysis 2003;5:29-34.

Johnson, B. Drug dreams: a neuropsychoanalytic hypothesis. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association 2001;49:75-96.

Longo, L., Parran, T., Johnson, B., Kinsey, W. Addiction: Part 2. Identification and management of the drug-seeking patient. American Family Physician 2000;61:2401-8.

Longo, L., Johnson, B. Addiction: Part 1. Benzodiazepines - side effects, abuse risks and alternatives. American Family Physician 2000;61:2121-8.

Johnson, B. Three perspectives on addiction. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association 1999;47:791-815.

Longo, L., Johnson, B. Treatment of insomnia in substance abusing patients. Psychiatric Annals 1998;28:154-9.

Johnson, B., Longo, L. Considerations in the physician's decision to prescribe benzodiazepines to patients with addiction. Psychiatric Annals 1998;28:154-9.

Johnson, B. The mechanism of codependence in the prescription of benzodiazepines to patients with addiction. Psychiatric Annals 1998;28:166-71.

Book Chapter:

"Drugs of Abuse, Sleep and the Quality of Life," in J.C. Verster, S.R. Pandi-Perumal, D.L. Streiner, eds. Sleep and the Quality of Life, Humana Press 2008

"Depression and Addiction," in T.L. Schwartz, T.J. Petersen, eds.  Depression: Treatment Strategies and Management, Second Edition, NY: Taylor & Francis 2009.

 "Drug Abuse, Dreams and Nightmares," in J.C. Verster, K. Brady, M. Galanter, P. Conrad, eds. Drug Abuse and Addiction in Medical Illness, New York:Springer 2012.


Widespread Zombification in the 21st Century and the Wars of the Zombie Masters. Syracuse:Gegensatz Press. 2009. (A neuropsychoanalytic textbook on addiction written at a 6th grade reading level.)


Clinical Profile Shortcut: http://www.upstate.edu/findadoc/johnsonb
Faculty Profile Shortcut: http://www.upstate.edu/faculty/johnsonb
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