School of Social Work

Understanding Substance Abuse

Maria Zuniga
SDSU Professor Dr. Maria Zuniga is the program’s co-director.

In 2015, The School of Social Work at SDSU and The Division of Global Public Health at UCSD collaborated to create one of the only PhD program in Interdisciplinary Research on Sub- stance Abuse in the country.  The mission of the program is to facilitate the development of students who, upon gradua- tion, are capable of conducting high caliber, high impact and meaningful substance use research to reduce the impact of problems related to substance use and co-occurring diseases. The program builds on mutual and complementary strengths of the faculty in both institutions and will be the most produc- tive doctoral programs in the nation associated with a School of Social Work.

Stephanie Strathdee
Dr. Stephanie Strathdee is the program co-director from UCSD.

This addiction research program is designed to train researchers using cutting-edge, investigational data analytics and methodologies to reduce the national and global burden of substance use and misuse.

The curriculum was designed to prepare the next generation of leaders in substance use research with the knowledge and skills to advance evidence-based and applied substance use interventions, programs and policies. The program has a decidedly global health flavor that focuses research on the inter- connectivity of psychological, pharmacological and environ- mental factors related to substance use. The interdisciplinary aspect of the program provides the opportunity for students in various backgrounds including psychology, social sciences and criminal justice to streamline their focus on addiction and substance use research.

National and global research and policy needs amidst a cli- mate of ongoing concern over the impact of substance use disorders and addiction will afford program graduates with ongoing job opportunities to offer a highly needed specialization in substance use research.

Students will complete residencies at both San Diego State University (Year 1) and the University of California at San Diego (Year 2). Dissertation units can be taken at both universities. Students must complete a minimum of 60 units and remain in good academic standing (e.g., minimum GPA 3.0)

Dr. Reed and Nicole
IRSU student Nicole Pepper and Professor Mark Reed at the American Academy of Health Behavior 2018 Annual Scientific Meeting: “An Equity Approach to Health Behavior Innovations.”

“This program is the first of its kind,” said JDP co-director Steffanie Strathdee, PhD, professor and head of the UC San Diego Global Health Initiative. “Given that sub- stance use has a growing health and societal impact in the U.S. and globally, this program could not come at a better time.”

María Luisa Zúñiga, PhD, JDP co-director and associate professor in SDSU’s School of Social Work, said “SDSU and UC San Diego have a long history of jointly offering cutting edge, high-demand programs. This new doctoral program is designed to train the next generation of researchers to lead interdisciplinary research efforts that will meaningfully address substance use issues of national and global impact. Our graduates will be highly sought after in fields including medicine, social work and public health, as well as research firms and governmental health departments.”