In January, the University of Michigan opened the Center for the Study of Drugs, Alcohol, Smoking, and Health, affiliated with the School of Nursing. Carol Boyd, a Deborah J. Oakley Collegiate professor in the Nursing School, and Sean Esteban McCabe, former director of the Substance Abuse Research Center, co-direct the new center, which increased its public persona when its website went live last week.
The University already has multiple research centers that explore addiction and substance use and abuse, including the Addiction Center, housed in the Michigan Medicine Department of Psychiatry, and the University of Michigan Tobacco Research Network. The DASH center, however, will hone in on substance use and the wider reaching social issues associated with it. Specifically, the center’s researchers share an interest in at-risk populations such as racial minorities, women and members of the LGBTQ community.
After the University of Michigan Substance Abuse Research Center closed in 2016, there was a need for a new interdisciplinary center for substance use research. Boyd then conceptualized the DASH center.
In particular, Boyd said she is interested in the intersections between drug misuse and minority populations and believes that the center can work toward mitigating these issues.
“Sexual, ethnic and gender minorities, adolescents, pregnant women, veterans and the elderly are at highest risk for the negative consequences of substance use, including HIV, injury, birth defects, suicide, cancer, and liver disease,” she wrote in an email interview. “These at-risk populations are the primary focus of the DASH Center scholars; we are faculty committed to advancing knowledge of substance use and its consequences through pioneering scholarship, evidence-based prevention, innovative clinical training and timely public policy and service.”
IHPI member Stephen Strobbe, a clinical associate professor at the Nursing School, is a researcher affiliated with DASH. He said his interest lies in integrating substance use screening and youth psychiatric care. Strobbe is working on a clinical initiative supported by a grant from the Flinn Foundation to educate and train clinicians in adolescent psychiatric care.
“The plan is to train members, across disciplines from the entire clinical team … toward youth ages 14 to 18 who are receiving inpatient psychiatric care,” he wrote in an email interview. “Across the lifespan, individuals with mental health disorders are at markedly increased risk for lifetime and concurrent substance use and related disorders, which otherwise complicates care, and leads to poorer treatment outcomes. Our hope is that earlier identification, intervention, and treatment may help to reduce or eliminate some (of) these potentially avoidable complications, leading to improved outcomes.”
Strobbe emphasized the DASH center is a good place for this initiative to happen.