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Addressing Addiction at Penn State College of Medicine

Public health concerns related to substance use or use disorders and their most severe form, addiction, are growing in Pennsylvania and nationwide, affecting rural and urban communities. Penn State College of Medicine is taking an interdisciplinary approach to address this public health crisis from multiple angles, including the perspectives of our community partners.

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Research (basic and translational)

To better understand the behavioral and biological underpinnings of substance use disorder and addiction and their effects on individual and community health and well-being; and to identify new prevention and treatment options.


Preparing the current and next generation of providers, researchers and scholars to care for individuals with substance use disorders and their communities; and to seek better understanding of the disease and new opportunities for treatments.


Applying research, discoveries, new knowledge and evidence-based guidance in Penn State Health clinical settings to care for individuals and our communities.

Community Outreach

Investigating innovative approaches that are developed with active community-partner involvement and input, so that they are relevant and acceptable to communities, making them more implementable, accessible and readily available.

Advocacy and Policy

Penn State College of Medicine faculty are setting the stage at the regional and national levels to advocate and inform policy changes around the care and treatment options available to those with substance use disorder.

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How the College of Medicine has an Impact

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Can weight loss drugs help treat addiction?

While drugs such as Ozempic and Wegovy have gained significant popularity for treating diabetes and weight loss, Penn State College of Medicine researchers are studying GLP-1 receptor agonist drugs like these to treat opioid addiction with promising initial results.


Woman holding up three types of e-cigarettes or vaping implements in front of her

Better choices, better regulation of tobacco

Penn State College of Medicine received a five-year, $20 million federal grant to investigate the harmful effects of alternative tobacco products, research that will help with better regulation and improve public health by clarifying the harmfulness and benefits.

Community Outreach

Illustration of a person using a vending machine branded Health To Go

Vending machines aren't just for snacks

Researchers have identified an innovative way to address diseases of despair and health disparities in the cities of Harrisburg and Reading by using vending machines to provide free harm reduction tools including Naloxone, Fentanyl test strips and contraceptives.


Close up of pamphlets related to drug abuse and alcohol stacked on a table.

Battling addiction together

The Penn State Addiction Symposium, organized by the Addiction Center for Translation, offers educational programming and research presentations for students and current professionals in the fields of addiction research, clinical care, recovery, community engagement and more.


A woman holding a baby – the woman faces away looing out a window with the baby facing over her shoulder

Help for pregnant women

Women who are pregnant and struggling with addiction can now get help from the Maternal Substance Use Disorder Program at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. The program offers comprehensive care through medication, behavioral therapy and social support services.


Structure drawings of compounds and molecules related to CBD, Delta-9 THC and related topics.

Using cannabis, natural products in treatment

Research interests in the Center for Cannabis and Natural Product Pharmaceutics encompasses cannabis and other natural products in both basic and clinical science studies for treating a wide range of diseases and disorders.

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News and Resources

Nested Applications

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