The Social Science Research Institute’s Consortium to Combat Substance Abuse has changed its name to the Consortium on Substance Use and Addiction (CSUA).
Approved earlier this year and informally announced during CSUA’s annual conference in May, the name change better reflects the consortium’s mission and vision, and also its aim for a more inclusive space for substance-based addiction researchers from all fields, departments, campuses and scientific research styles.
Initially established in 2018 and focused primarily on the opioid epidemic, the consortium quickly realized that a larger space for the diverse swath of addiction researchers and practitioners was necessary for addressing areas of prevention, treatment and recovery, and to include other substances like tobacco.
Since then, CSUA has morphed into a large collective of substance-based addiction researchers, practitioners and educators across all of Penn State’s campuses that work on everything from opioids to e-cigarettes to alcohol. In addition, CSUA has hired 13 co-funded faculty members since 2019 with one ongoing faculty search, totaling 14 new hires. The group of co-funded faculty members span a multitude of fields, departments, colleges and campuses.
According to Paul Griffin, interim director of CSUA and professor of industrial and manufacturing engineering, the name update is also an effort to further destigmatize substance use, addiction and other related issues.
“We heard from several people that our name was stigmatizing, particularly the use of ‘combat’ and ‘abuse,’ so we decided to change it to something that 1) reflects an accurate and science-based understanding of substance use disorders (SUD), and 2) shows that our doors are open to any Penn State substance-based addiction researcher or practitioner,” Griffin said.
He noted that, for many people with an SUD, stigma may come from old and inaccurate beliefs that addiction is a moral failing, instead of what people know it to be — a chronic, treatable disease in which patients can recover and continue to lead healthy lives.
“We want to make sure that we are not contributing further to the stigma and negative bias for a group of people that already struggle with enough in their lives," said Griffin. "We also don’t want to place that stigma or negative bias onto the professionals that assist them, either.”
The CSUA, housed in the Social Science Research Institute, draws on the expertise of substance-based researchers, educators and practitioners from across Penn State to develop and implement effective programs, policies and practices aimed at preventing and treating addiction and its spillover effects on children, families and communities.