Arthur Robin Williams, MD, MBE

Profile Headshot


Dr. Williams is Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Columbia University Division on Substance Use Disorders, and Research Scientist, New York State Psychiatric Institute. He attended Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs for his undergraduate degree in domestic health policy, completed his medical degree at the University of Pennsylvania where he also earned a Master in Bioethics. He completed psychiatry training at NYU-Bellevue, and a NIDA funded T32 research fellowship in Addiction Psychiatry at Columbia.

Dr. Williams is currently NIH funded with a 5-year NIDA K23 - award to develop a quality of care framework, the OUD Cascade of Care, to respond to the opioid epidemic in addition to an R21 (NIDA) invesitagting changes in controlled substance use among medical marijuana participants and related risk of overdose. His work on addiction and mental illness has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the Lancet, JAMA Psychiatry, Annals of Internal Medicine, and by the American Psychiatric Association and Oxford University Press. He has served as an invited expert guest to present to SAMHSA, APA, and NIDA.

Academic Appointments

  • Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry

Administrative Titles

  • Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychiatry
  • Research Scientist, New York State Psychiatric Institute


  • Male

Credentials & Experience

Education & Training

  • BA, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University
  • MD, MA, Medicine, Bioethics, Univ. of Pennsylvania School of Med
  • Internship: New York University-Bellevue Hospital Center
  • Residency: New York University-Bellevue Hospital Center
  • Fellowship: Columbia University Medical Center

Committees, Societies, Councils

American Psychiatric Association
American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry
American Society of Addiction Medicine



Ongoing Research Support

K23 DA044342-01 ( Williams)
“Improving the treatment cascade of MAT initiation and retention for opioid use disorder”
Role: Principal Investigator

NIDA Clinical Trials Network 0112 (PI: Williams)
“Optimizing Policies To Improve Methadone Maintenance Adherence Long-term”
The OPTIMMAL study evaluates opioid treatment programs (OTPs) across the country and how
loosed regulations following COVID impacted retention and drug use outcomes.
Role: Lead investigator

TI-18-004 Subaward (PI: Williams)
“Opioid Use Disorder Cascade of Care Toolkit”
Funded by the ORN, formerly the STR/SOR efforts to ensure the provision of evidence-based prevention, treatment and recovery support programs/services across all states and territories
Role: PI

R21 DA045267 (Williams)
NIDA: Medical Marijuana Program Participation and Changes in Controlled Substance Use
Role: Principal Investigator

TI-18-004 Subaward (PI: Levin)
FY 2018 Opioid State Targeted Response Technical Assistance (STR TA)
The goal of this project is so provide technical assistance and necessary support to State Targeted Response (STR) grantees to ensure the provision of evidence-based prevention, treatment and recovery support programs/services across all states and territories that received STR grants.
Role: Co-Investigator/paid on consortium to RFMH, Inc.

1UG1DA050071-01 (Elkington, Nunes, Wainberg)
7/15/19 – 4/30/2024
Facilitating Opioid Care Connections: System level strategies to improve use of MAT and movement through the opioid care cascade for defendants in a new Opioid Court system.
In this proposal we will leverage the unique, real-time, scale-up of a new opioid court model (OCM) to address a critical public as well as correctional health problem by developing and evaluating an implementation intervention (OCM RISE), designed to build cross-system partnerships to permit development of generalizable yet tailored strategies that allow the OCM to be scaled up across a variety of contexts.
Role: Co-Investigator

Past Support

UG1 DA013035-15 (Rotrosen & Nunes) 09/01/99- 05/31/2020
Clinical Trials Network: Greater New York Node
The overall aim is to evaluate the efficacy and effectiveness of new therapies for substance dependence through multisite trials conducted in “real world” community-based treatment settings, to disseminate these treatments and foster their appropriate use, and to understand the problems that may interfere with the successful adaptation of newer treatments.
Role: Co-Investigator

R01MH102161-02 (Rabkin)
Return to work RCT: Counseling after fatigue treatment in HIV/AIDS.
Role: Co-Investigator

H79 TI025937-02 (Levin)
Training Medical and Dental Studies in SBIRT
Role: Co-Investigator

Selected Publications

Original, Peer Reviewed Articles

  1. Krawczyk N, Williams AR, Saloner B, Cerda M (2021). A National Study of Retention in Outpatient Specialty Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder, JSAT, 126(108329):1-11.
  2. Williams AR (2021). A critical charge for improving opioid use disorder outcomes along the cascade. Am J Drug Alc Abuse; Mar 18, 2021
  3. Elkington KS, Nunes E, Schachar A… Williams AR… Wainberg M (2021). Stepped-wedge randomized controlled trial of a novel opioid court to improve identification of need and linkage to medications for opioid use disorder treatment for court-involved adults. J Subst Abus Treat. January 8, 2021 doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2021.108277. PMID 33487516.
  4. Williams AR (2021). Ethical dilemmas in counseling older adults on cannabis use: Less science, more quandaries. Generations; Winter 2021 44(4).
  5. Williams AR, Hill KP (2020). In the Clinic© Care of the Patient Using Cannabis. Annals of Internal Medicine, 173(9):ITC65-ITC80. PMID: 33137270.
  6. Rosenthal RN, Welsh JW, Connery HS, Barnett BS, DeVido J, Hill K, Levin FR, Williams AR, Greenfield SF. Advocacy and Public Policy Efforts of the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry. Am J Addict. 2020 Sep;29(5):401-406. PMID 32902042.
  7. Williams AR, Levin FR (2020). The Perils of Screening for Illicit Drug Use are a Call to Action for the Mental Health Workforce. JAMA Psychiatry; 77(11)1101-1102. PMC7725944.
  8. Williams AR (2020). Cannabis as a Gateway Drug for Opioid Use Disorder. Journal of Law, Medicine, & Ethics. 48(2):268-274. PMC7359408.
  9. Bao Y, Williams AR, Schackman B (2020). COVID-19 can change the way we respond to the opioid crisis – for the better. Psychiatric Services; Aug 12:appips202000226. doi: 10.1176/ PMID: 32781928. PMC7891848.
  10. Williams AR (2020). Commentary onPiskeet al. (2020): Medication initiation is key to reduce deaths amid opioid crisis. Addiction, 115(8):1494-1495. PMC7340569.Samples H, Williams AR, Crystal S, Olfson M (2020). Impact of long-term buprenorphine treatment on adverse health outcomes in Medicaid. Health Affairs, June 2020.
  11. Williams AR, Samples H, Crystal S, Olfson M (2020). Retention on buprenorphine beyond six months and risk of acute care service utilization, opioid prescription use, and overdose, Am J Psych 2020 Feb 1;177(2):117-124. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2019.19060612.
  12. Tofighi B, Williams AR, Chemi C, Sindhu S, Dickson V, Lee JD (2019). Patient Barriers and Facilitators to Medications for Opioid Use Disorder in Primary Care, Substance Use & Misuse, DOI: 10.1080/10826084.2019.1653324; PMC6883164. PMID 31429351.
  13. Meinhofer A, Williams AR, Johnson P, Schackman B, Bao Y (2019). Prescribing decisions at buprenorphine treatment initiation: Do they matter for treatment discontinuation and adverse opioid-related events?J Subst Abus Treat, 105:37-43. PMID: 31443889; PMCID: PMC6731543.
  14. Williams AR, Nunes EV, Bisaga A, Levin FR, Olfson M (2019). Development of an Opioid Use Disorder Cascade of Care to Address the Addiction Treatment Gap. Am J Drug Alc Abuse;(45)1: January 2019. PMID: 30675818; PMCID: PMC6404749.
  15. Williams AR, Hill KP (2019). Cannabis and the Current State of Treatment for Cannabis Use Disorder. FOCUS:The Journal of Lifelong Learning in Psychiatry; 17:98-103.doi: 10.1176/appi.focus.20180038
  16. Williams AR, Nunes EV, Bisaga A, et al(2018). Developing an Opioid Use Disorder Treatment Cascade: A Review of Quality Measures. J Subst Abus Treat;91:57-68.
  17. Samples H, Williams AR, Olfson M, Crystal S (2018). Risk factors for premature discontinuation of buprenorphine treatment for opioid use disorders in a multi-state sample of Medicaid enrollees. J Subst Abus Treat, 95:9-17.
  18. Williams AR, Santaella-Tenorio J, Mauro C, Levin FR, Martins SS (2017). Loose regulation of medical marijuana programs associated with higher rates of adult marijuana use but not cannabis use disorder. Addiction; 112(11):1985-1991. PMID 28600874, PMC5735415.
  19. Williams AR, Barbieri V, Mishlen K, Levin FR, Nunes EV, Mariani JJ, Bisaga A. Long term follow up study of community based patients receiving xr-naltrexone for opioid use disorder (2017). American Journal on Addictions; Jun;26(4):319-325. PMID 28328148, PMC5426981.
  20. Levin FR, Bisaga A, Sullivan MA, Williams AR, Cates-Wessel K (2016). A review of a national training initiative to increase provider use of MAT to respond to the opioid epidemic. American Journal on Addictions; 25(8):603-609.PMID 28051841
  21. Williams AR, Bisaga A (2016). From AIDS to opioids- how to combat an epidemic. New England Journal of Medicine; Sept 1;375(9):813-815, 2016.PMID 27579632, PMC5517310.
  22. Williams AR, Olfson M, Kim JD, Martins SS, Kleber HD (2016). Older, Less Regulated Medical Marijuana Programs Have Much Greater Enrollment Rates. Health Affairs; Mar 1;35(3):480-8. PMC4845727
  23. Williams AR(2015). Opportunities in Reform: Bioethics and Mental Health Ethics. Bioethics.May;30(4):221-6. PMC4814362
  24. Williams AR, Olfson M, Galanter M (2015). Assessing and Improving Clinical Insight among Patients in "Denial." JAMA Psychiatry;72(4):303-4. PMC453897
  25. Tofighi B, Lee JD, Biary R, Williams AR, Rotrosen J, Grossman E (2014). Six-Month Patient Outcomes After Office-Based Buprenorphine Clinic Disruption During Hurricane Sandy. Substance Use & Misuse; 35(2):200-201.
  26. Williams AR, Cohen S, Ford E (2014). Statutory definitions of mental illness for involuntary hospitalization as related to substance use disorders. Psychiatric ServicesMay;65(5):634-640. PMID 24430580.
  27. Williams AR, Tofighi B, Lee J, Rotrosen J, Grossman E (2014). Psychiatric Comorbidity, Red Flag Behaviors, and Associated Outcomes among Office-Based Buprenorphine Patients Following Hurricane Sandy. Journal of Urban Health; Apr;91(2): 366-75. PMID 24619775, PMC3978155.
  28. Tofighi B, Grossman E, Williams AR, Biary R, Rotrosen J, Lee JD (2014). Outcomes among buprenorphine naloxone primary care patients after Hurricane Sandy. Addiction Science & Clinical Practice;Jan 27;9(1):3. PMID 24467734
  29. McCormack R, Williams AR, Ross S, Rotrosen J, Goldfrank LR, Caplan AL (2013). Committing to Assessment and Treatment: Comprehensive Care for Patients Gravely Disabled by Alcohol Use Disorders, The Lancet; 382:995-997. PMID 23602314
  30. Williams AR, Caplan AL (2012). Thomas Szasz: Rebel with a Questionable Cause. The Lancet; October 20,(380):1378-1379. PMID 23091833
  31. Nordstrom B, Williams AR(2012). Drug Treatment in Criminal Justice Settings. Psych Clinics of North America; 35(2):375-91. PMID 22640761
  32. Starrels J, Becker W, Alford D, Kapoor A, Williams AR,Turner B (2010). "Systematic Review: Treatment Agreements and Urine Drug Testing to Reduce Opioid Misuse in Patients With Chronic Pain,"Annals of Internal Medicine; 152(11);712-720. PMID 20513829

Book Chapters

  1. Williams AR(2018). Performance measures and quality improvement for the opioid epidemic; in Opioid Addiction: An American Crisis, Compton M, Manseau MW eds. American Psychiatric Publishing Inc., 2018.
  2. Schulman M,Williams AR, Bisaga A (2018). Management of Opioid Withdrawal; in Opioid Addiction: An American Crisis, Compton M, Manseau MW eds. American Psychiatric Publishing Inc., 2018.
  3. Cooper Z, Williams AR(2018). Cannabis and Cannabinoid Intoxication and Toxicity; in Cannabis Use Disorder, Montoya I, Weiss S eds. Springer Publishing Inc.
  4. Williams AR (2016).Medical and Recreational Marijuana Policy: From Prohibition to the Rise of Regulation; in Marijuana and Mental Health, Compton M ed. American Psychiatric Publishing Inc.
  5. Williams AR, Bogunovic O (2016). Benzodiazepines and sedative hypnotic addiction in the older adult; in Addiction and the Older Adult, Sullivan M and Levin F eds. Oxford University Press.

Original, non-peer reviewed articles

  1. Williams AR (2018). After Many Years, the FDA Announces Loosened Standards for Addiction Medication Approval. Health Affairs blog, March 23, 2018.
  2. Williams AR, Bisaga A (2017). The Opioid Commission: Ringing the Right Alarm to Respond to the Opioid Epidemic.Health Affairs blog, August 21, 2017.
  3. Williams AR, Olfson M, Nunes EV. To battle the opioid epidemic, deploy the 'Cascade of Care' model. Health Affairs, Health Policy Lab, March 13, 2017.
  4. Williams AR(2012). Island Time. Blog posting, Literature, Arts, and Medicine Database, New York University. August 15th;
  5. Williams AR(2011). MyRightSelf. Blog posting, Literature, Arts, and Medicine Database, New York University. December 21st;
  6. Williams AR(2009). Transgender Considerations: A Clinical Primer for the Generalist Working with Trans and LGB Patients, 30-page booklet, 5,000 copies printed/distributed.
  7. Williams, A.R. (2009). Making Images, Ars Medica,5(1), pp. 119-122; reprinted (2011) inCrawford, A. et al eds. Bodies and Soul: Narratives of Health from Ars Medica. University of Toronto Press.
  8. Williams AR, Langleben DD (2009). The Sunny Side of an Underwater Mortgage: A Look at the Neurobiology of Social Cooperation. Science Progress, June 9, 2009.
  9. Williams AR(2004). Crisis of Neglect: New Jersey's Refusal to Allow Needle Exchange Harms Everyone. Op-Ed, The Newark Star-Ledger, August 29, 2004.
  10. Williams, AR (2004). State policymaking and syringe deregulation: The determinants of successful reform. Princeton University senior thesis. 140 pages.