What is Drug Addiction?

On average, one thousand Americans die every week from drug overdoses and roughly 7.1 million are dependent on or abuse illicit drugs, but only 15 percent of them are receiving treatment. These numbers include abuse of opioids, alcohol, other illicit drugs, and even tobacco.


There is an overwhelming amount of prejudice and misinformation around drug addiction and substance use disorders that makes it difficult to seek treatment. Drug addiction can be influenced by many factors, ranging from medical prescriptions to economic status, to societal norms, to parental or friend influences, and so much more. Some of the ways to address this ever-growing issue is through policy, education, and harm reduction.

Labs & Clubs

Center for Drug Use and HIV Research (CDUHR)

The Center for Drug Use and HIV Research (CDUHR) is an interdisciplinary research center that focuses on public health issues related to HIV, hepatitis C, and drug use. The are three institutions affiliated with CDUHR: New York University; Mount Sinai Health System; and John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY.

The mission of CDUHR is to end the HIV and HCV epidemics in drug using populations and their communities by conducting transdisciplinary research and disseminating its findings to inform programmatic, policy, and grassroots initiatives at the local, state, national and global levels.

CDUHR accomplishes this mission by contributing to knowledge about HIV and HCV epidemics; developing, implementing and evaluating interventions that have an impact on them; disseminating findings through multiple venues to inform evidence-based practices and policies; and training new researchers across scientific disciplines.

Visit the CDUHR Website

Opioids and Police Safety Study by NDRI

By harmonizing public health and policing initiatives, this study aims to remove barriers to productive and life- saving police engagement with PWUO/PWID. This 2-arm pragmatic trial will address the hazards experienced by police when working with illicit opioids and promote strategies that focus both on the safety of law enforcement and evidence- based and best-practices for working with persons at risk of an opioid overdose.

Tobacco Lab

This lab focuses on the Population Assessment of Tobacco and Health (PATH) Study. The PATH Study is a collaboration between the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Center for Tobacco Products (CTP), and Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It was launched in 2011 to inform FDA's regulatory activities under the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. The PATH Study is an ongoing longitudinal cohort study on tobacco use behavior, attitudes and beliefs, and tobacco-related health outcomes. Through weekly lab meetings, students have the opportunity to learn about a large range of topics, facilitate didactic presentations, and discuss their research with the Co-Directors, Co-Investigators, and Research Coordinator.

Faculty at GPH

David B Abrams

Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Dr. David Abrams focuses on systems thinking and social learning theory conceptual approaches to health enhancement and chronic disease prevention.

Holly Hagan


Dr. Hagan’s research has examined blood-borne and sexually-transmitted infections among people who use drugs, and her work has sought to understand the causes and consequences of substance use disorders.

Cheryl Healton

Founding Dean of School of Global Public Health
Professor of Public Health Policy and Management

As Founding Dean of the School, Dr. Cheryl Healton led the academic, service, and research programs.

Don Des Jarlais

Professor of Epidemiology

Dr. Don Des Jarlais is a leader in the fields of AIDS and injecting drug use, and has published extensively on these topics in many different countries.

Farzana Kapadia

Vice Chair of Academic Affairs, Department of Epidemiology
Professor of Epidemiology

Dr. Kapadia is an epidemiologist studying the social and structural drivers of HIV/STIs as well as sexual and reproductive health outcomes.

Courtney A McKnight

Clinical Assistant Professor of Epidemiology

Dr. Courtney McKnight is a Principal Investigator specializing in mixed methods research focused on the epidemiology of drug use, opioid overdose, HIV and HCV infection.

Raymond S Niaura

Interim Chair of the Department of Epidemiology
Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Dr. Raymond Niaura studies the biobehavioral substrates of tobacco dependence, including factors that influence adolescent and early adult tobacco use trajectories.

Danielle C Ompad

Associate Dean for Education
Professor of Epidemiology

Dr. Danielle Ompad is an epidemiologist whose work is focused in the areas of urban health, HIV, illicit drug use, and adult access to vaccines.

Movies and TV shows in the United States and abroad where most countries lack regulations, portray tobacco and alcohol use as cool, romantic, or something you should do. It’s a huge problem that we still need to combat, yet people still think that we’ve done everything for tobacco research as smoking rates have gone down, cigarette smoking rates have gone down. But there is still a lot more work to do…
- Mahathi Vojjala, MPH '17, Current Doctoral Student

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