The first step in overcoming substance abuse is to expand knowledge by analyzing behavioral factors, debunking myths, detecting errors, and testing treatments and intervention strategies. By so doing, we further our understanding of the use of psychoactive substances and the policies and programs needed to address problem use.

Substance Abuse Research Center members have close ties with practitioners and policy makers, allowing practical realities to guide the development of theory and research and providing real-world opportunities for testing. As a result, government officials and community leaders get the latest information, and faculty have opportunities for real-world testing.

Faculty provide counsel to legislators and civic leaders at every level. Their subjects include, for example, tobacco and beverage alcohol taxes, driver licensing laws, national strategies for dealing with drugs, and design of treatment programs for pregnant women and disadvantaged populations.


To promote and extend the knowledge regarding individual, institutional and social mechanisms of substance use/abuse. By applying the University of Michigan’s unique strengths in research and training; we aim to cross disciplinary boundaries, consider innovative questions, develop new research strategies, advance public discourses and develop a greater understanding of substance abuse.


In the past, the historical segregation of substance abuse research, by discipline and substance, limited our understanding of nicotine, alcohol and other drugs. Despite the more current attention given to interdisciplinary endeavors, researchers interested in substance abuse often remain isolated within their disciplines; thus, UMSARC aims to serve as an institutional umbrella for interdisciplinary research pertaining to substance use/abuse. Indeed, our goal is to maintain a strong intellectual focus while fostering unique and interdisciplinary approaches to real world problems.


  1. Knowledge Generation: Research and Scholarship
    The Center serves as a catalyst for the development and exchange of knowledge that cuts across disciplinary boundaries. Examples include: an active research center that develops a portfolio of research and programs, interdisciplinary projects, conference sponsorship, etc.
  2. Knowledge Application: The Development and Evaluation of Policies and Programs
    The Center serves as an advisory resource, promoting the utilization of science in the formulation of policies and the development of programs at all levels – national, state and local. Examples include: providing data relevant to federal welfare reform legislation; consulting with state policy makers on prison drug treatment; providing assistance to the University in policy development related to student alcohol, drug & tobacco use/abuse, etc.
  3. Knowledge Transfer: Education and Training
    The Center emphasizes cross-disciplinary dialogue, interdisciplinary training and the dissemination of knowledge to academic and professional communities as well as the public. Examples include: the provision of specialized training for researchers, lecture series, public presentations, etc.