New Help for People with Schizophrenia or Schizoaffective Disorder Who Use Marijuana or Alcohol


The COMPASS Program has completed enrollment and the study is now closed to recruitment at this time.

Many people with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder use drugs and alcohol. Sometimes using drugs and alcohol can make a person feel good temporarily, but they can also make it difficult to recover from schizophrenia and accomplish your personal goals.

The COMPASS Program is a new study that aims to learn how best to help people with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder who use marijuana or alcohol. The purpose of the program is to learn how to help you accomplish your life goals, whether you decide to quit or not.

Participants may be treated for up to 18 months with a combination of Cognitive Enhancement Therapy and Personal Therapy. These non-drug research interventions are designed to help people with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder and offer healthy coping alternatives to the use of drugs and alcohol. These treatments aim to provide support and help individuals achieve their personal goals by improving attention, memory, problem-solving, motivation, social interactions, and stress management.

In addition to receiving these research interventions, participants may also be asked to complete interviews, computer testing, and diagnostic assessments. Participants will be compensated for completing these activities, and will not be billed for treatment provided by the program.


What Kind of Help Could I Receive?

By participating in the COMPASS Program you may receive the study treatment which is a combination of Cognitive Enhancement Therapy and Personal Therapy. These two treatments aim to help with problems in thinking, planning, socialization, and stress management.

Help you may receive includes:

  • Individual treatment to learn more about your condition and how to manage stress
  • Cognitive training using computer software to enhance your thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Group treatment to learn how to act wisely in social situations by developing the abilities needed to understand another person’s perspective, evaluate social contexts, and be foresightful

Time commitment: about 3 1/2 hours per week

Comparison Approach: Your Usual Treatment

Some individuals in this study will not receive the study treatment. If you are assigned to the usual treatment approach, you will continue to receive your usual care (e.g., medication management, individual and group treatment, drug/alcohol treatment). You will come in every 6 months for study assessments over a period of 18 months. All individuals are encouraged to continue seeing their current psychiatrist and clinician.

Who is Eligible to Participate?

Individuals with the following characteristics are eligible for the COMPASS Program:

  • Age 18-55
  • Diagnosis of schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder
  • Use of marijuana within the past 3 months or use frequent use of alcohol
  • No use of other drugs (e.g., cocaine, heroin, amphetamines) in the last year
  • An IQ of 80 or above
  • Stable on antipsychotic medication

Is There a Charge to Participate?

There is no charge for any of the research procedures, including Cognitive Enhancement Therapy and Personal Therapy appointments.

Will I Be Compensated for Participating?

Financial reimbursement for travel to the program is available, and participants are compensated for completing research assessments.

How to Contact Us

The referring clinician (or interested patient and family) can contact the program at 412-586-9000. Please leave a message with your name and contact information if you receive an answering machine. The COMPASS Program is located at Webster Hall, 4415 Fifth Avenue, Suite 142M in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh. Parking is reimbursed and available at Webster Hall (use the Bellefield Avenue entrance).


Support for the COMPASS Program is provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.