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Addiction Psychiatry Fellowship

Addiction Psychiatry Fellowship
600 E. Genesee Street
Suite 217
600 East Genesee Street
Syracuse, NY 13202
Google Maps & Directions
Phone: 315 464-9161
Fax: 315 464-3141
Name: Vishal Anugu, Program Administrator
Email: anuguv@upstate.edu

Addiction is one of the most exciting areas in medicine because of its border position. It is on the border of psychiatry and medicine. It is on the border of psychoanalysis and neuroscience.

Fellows on this elective will work with complexly ill patients in both inpatient and outpatient settings, providing both consultation and direct patient care. You will get a firm grounding in 12 Step Recovery Programs and attend Alcoholics Anonymous during your training experience where you will be immersed in the recovery culture.

Neuropsychoanalysis is the focus of Addiction Psychiatry Service. The staff of the service has special training in brain mechanisms of addiction, and how this knowledge can be combined with other state of the art modalities of psychotherapy to aid patients to enter a process of recovery.

Tolani Ajagbe, MBBS
 Dr. Ajagbe , MBBS
 Program Director

Program Overview

The Fellowship has changed as of September 2022.  Dr. Ajagbe has taken over as Program Director. Dr. Johnson has retired, although he will continue to teach the fellow seminar and supervise the addiction psychiatry fellows.  This preserves the neuropsychoanalytic sensibility.

Fellows will continue to spend 2.5 days per week at Upstate; 2 half days doing neuropsychoanalytic treatment of addiction with transference focused psychotherapy, one morning doing Upstate Hospital consults and going on consult rounds with the toxicology fellows and their fellowship director Ross Sullivan M.D., half a day working up and hearing pain evaluations along with neurology, family medicine and internal medicine residents, and pain fellows.

The time at Upstate also includes a half day of academic work: The fellow seminar, supervision, academic projects. Crouse Hospital is the site for methadone and buprenorphine maintenance, day treatment, and inpatient rehab. To give a wide spectrum of approaches, one half day is at Helio Health, another addiction treatment service.


At its core addiction is an attachment disorder. Instead of being able to enter normal adult development, teenagers start to address emotional difficulties by squashing feelings with drugs. The core of outpatient treatment involves psychotherapy.

"Pain" is a complex affect. Opioids regulate human relationships as well mediating brain responses to peripheral signals. The epidemic of opioid prescribing must be addressed by diagnosing pain drivers, recognizing the importance of brain-mediated pain/opioid induced hyperalgesia, and addressing emotional issues that are camouflaged by opioid maintenance.

We use neuroscience innovation to guide treatment.

Relapse involves three driving forces:

  • Emotional issues that are covered over by drugs.  We respond acutely with diagnosis of psychiatric and pain issues, immediately beginning treatment with psychotherapy and medication; initially transference focused psychotherapy.
  • Life long craving.  ALL drug addiction addressed, especially nicotine. Using one addictive drug turns on craving for others.
  • Post acute withdrawal (PAW). Opioid PAW addressed with low dose naltrexone, result followed with the cold pressor test for pain tolerance.  Alcohol dependent patients – support person asked to administer disulfiram for first year sober.

A selection of papers authored by our Program Director can be found here:

  • Merrell E., Johnson B. (2022) Using New Technology and Concepts on the Oldest Addiction on Earth, Alcoholism. In: Patel V.B., Preedy V.R. (eds) Handbook of Substance Misuse and Addictions. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-67928-6_57-1


  • Siembida J, Johnson B. Depression in Fibromyalgia Patients May Require Low-Dose Naltrexone to Respond: A Case Report. Cureus  2022;14(2): e22677. doi:10.7759/cureus.22677
  • RingwoodT, FelldinB, CoxL, KirschM, JohnsonB. Drive and Instinct – How They Produce Relatedness and Addiction, Frontiers in Psychology 2021; DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.657944
  • AnuguV, RinghisenJ, JohnsonB. CASE REPORT: CAUSE AND TREATMENT OF “HIGH OPIOID TONE” AUTISM", Frontiers in Psychology 2021. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.657952 
  • JacksonD, SinghS, Zhang-JamesY, FaraoneS, JohnsonB. The effects of low dose naltrexone on opioid induced hyperalgesia and fibromyalgia. Frontiers in Psychiatry 2021; doi: 10.3389/psyt.2021.593842
  • Tabi S, Heitner S, Shivale S, Minchenberg S, Faraone S, Johnson B. Opioid addiction / pregnancy and neonatal abstinence syndrome: a preliminary open-label study of buprenorphine maintenance and drug use targeted psychotherapy (DUST) on cessation of addictive drug use. Frontiers in Psychiatry Front Psychiatry. 2020;11:563409.  doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2020.563409.
  • Fibromyalgia, Autism, and Opiod Addiction
  • Addiction and Will
  • Ameliorative Response to Detoxification
  • Cannabis and Pain
  • Engineering Neurobiological Systems: Addiction
  • Pleasure Principle
  • Cold Pressor Time

Areas of Study

Through teaching, experience and supervision, fellows learn the fundamental principles of addiction psychiatry.

You would become a master of the field by participating in the following activities:

  • Outpatient detoxification.
  • Psychotherapy of addicted patients
  • Supervision of residents and medical students at Commonwealth Place Addiction Rehabilitation and Crouse Hospital Chemical Dependency Addiction Psychiatry Outpatient Clinic
  • Weekly attendance at Methadone Maintenance rounds coordinating shared cases and starting your own Buprenorphine Maintenance program if you would like
  • Attending and presenting at the academic conferences at Day Treatment and Commonwealth Place
  • Inpatient hospital rounds combined with Toxicology Fellows led by Ross Sullivan M.D.
  • Working with the Dr. Johnson on special projects in adolescent addiction, pain, and prescription drug abuse

Application Process

  • Applications are submitted via the ERAS Service.
  • We will be utilizing the NRMP Match for recruitment.
  • For more information, please visit the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry (AAAP) Fellowship website, the ERAS website, and the NRMP Match website.