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Department of Mental Health

Substance Use Epidemiology

Substance use and substance use disorders (SUD) are among a leading cause of illness, injury, and death in the US and around the globe. The Substance Use Epidemiology faculty in the Department of Mental Health is engaged in research on substance use and SUD across the lifecourse to reduce the burden and improve outcomes. Faculty conduct research on comorbid SUDs and psychiatric disorders; programs and interventions to prevent substance use, especially among adolescents; SUD and harm reduction services and systems of care; and policies relevant to drug control and substance use disorder treatment. The faculty is particularly focused on health disparities populations.

Substance Use Epidemiology

Our Work in Action

MHS students, Vaughan Hooper and Annice Brown, are working with the Center for Addiction and Pregnancy (CAP) to investigate pregnant and perinatal women’s barriers to getting treatment for substance use disorders. With Dr. Denis Antoine as Medical Director, the Baltimore-based Center provides comprehensive, coordinated, and multidisciplinary care to help mothers and infants deal with the physical, emotional, and social problems caused by addiction.

photo of pregnant women holding glass of wine
Substance Use Epidemiology

Our Work in Action

Ryoko Susukida, PhD and other faculty presented the methodology and findings of the “Data Harmonization Initiative” to researchers across the country. The Initiative involved pre-statistical data harmonization to standardize data from NIDA-Funded RCTs of treatments for substance use disorders, including pharmacotherapy. The goal is to make these data more accessible to a wide circle of researchers to encourage various secondary data analyses.

Substance Use Epidemiology

Our Work in Action

Renee M. Johnson, PhD is working with Dr. Ju Nyeong Park (HBS) to evaluate the State of Maryland’s CDC-funded Overdose-to-Action program. They are conducting outcome monitoring and quality improvement for Maryland’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program and on local harm reduction initiatives. Their team includes faculty in Mental Health, HBS, and HPM – including Drs. Ryoko Susukida, Susan Sherman, Ramin Mojtabai, Brendan Saloner, Masoumeh Aminesmaeili, and Saba Rouhani.

photo of several bottle of precription pills - some open on a table
photo of baltimore row houses
Substance Use Epidemiology

Our Work in Action

Kristin Schneider, PhD, post-doctoral fellow with the Drug Dependence Epidemiology Training (DDET) Program, recently published an article in Substance Abuse https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33617733/. The purpose of the study was to learn more about how people who use drugs (PWUD) in Baltimore City, Maryland access naloxone. This studied found that most participants could only identify a single naloxone source, mainly pharmacies and medical providers. The findings support increasing points of access to naloxone beyond pharmacies and clinical settings, to ensure that a broader segment of PWUD have the tools to prevent overdose deaths. Drs. Karin Tobin and Carl Latkin – both faculty with DDET – were co-authors. This study inspired a Bloomberg American Health Initiative funded project led by Dr. Schneider to further explore barriers to naloxone access in Baltimore City at both the individual and systems level.

Faculty Spotlight

Johannes Thrul

Johannes Thrul

Assistant Professor
Mental Health

Johannes Thrul, PhD, MS, uses mobile health technology to understand and treat substance use disorders.

Brion Maher

Brion Maher

Professor
Mental Health

Brion Maher, PhD, MS, is a geneticist who studies the role of genetics and epigenetics in substance use disorders.