Project Title

Defining clinically-relevant non-abstinence treatment outcomes for young people with cannabis use disorder

Project Type



Research interests of the research team offering the project

The Substance Use Research Group at the Centre for Youth Mental Health, University of Melbourne, conducts research to better understand and treat substance use problems in young people with and without primary mental illness.

With a clinical trial focus, the group is conducting a range of studies that test novel behavioural and pharmacological interventions to improve treatment outcomes in young people presenting for drug use treatment.

A new developing research line is using substances more commonly known for recreational use (for example MDMA) as therapeutics for mental ill-health in young people.

Details of the project

The majority of presentations at Australian youth alcohol and other drug treatment services (60 per cent) are due to cannabis use disorder. The early presentation of many young people with cannabis use disorder looking for treatment represents a major untapped opportunity for impactful early intervention.

Best practice treatment for substance use disorders more broadly comprises combined pharmacological and psychological intervention. To date, there are no efficacious pharmacotherapies for cannabis use disorder, limiting treatment options.

Our research group is investigating novel pharmacotherapies for this indication in young people. A challenge in clinical trials of this type is defining the optimal study endpoint. In the past, the majority of clinical trials of pharmacotherapies for substance use disorder employed end of study abstinence as the primary marker of treatment efficacy. However, many young people entering treatment do not wish to entirely cease cannabis use.

In alcohol use disorder studies, a clinically-meaningful non-abstinence outcome (reduction in days of heavy drinking) has been defined. To date, no such outcome has been established for cannabis use disorder.

This project will focus on understanding optimal treatment outcomes for young people with cannabis use problems and defining and validating a clinically-meaningful non-abstinence treatment goal.

Project references

  1. Levin FR, et al. Non-abstinent treatment outcomes for cannabis use disorder. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2021 Aug 1;225:108765. Available from:
  2. Loflin MJ, et al. The state of clinical outcome assessments for cannabis use disorder clinical trials: a review and research agenda. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2020 Jul 1;212:107993. Available from:

Scholarships and fees

A partial stipend is available for this project. The contact listed below can provide you with further information.

Scholarships are available through the University of Melbourne – find out more here. Other scholarship opportunities may also be available but are highly competitive, so please speak to the contact person below for further details.

Information on fees for domestic and international students is available here.

How to apply

  1. Read information for future students here and check your eligibility here.
  2. Read our frequently asked questions here.
  3. Liaise with, and gain the support of, the supervisor/s. Please contact them using the details below and attach a copy of your CV and university transcript(s). 
  4. Once you’ve gained supervisor support, follow the steps outlined by the University of Melbourne here. You can go straight to Step 3. 

You are strongly encouraged to submit your application as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.


Gill Bedi
[email protected]