A network of scholars, students, staff at The University of Texas at Austin together with local agencies and organizations have launched the Youth Substance Misuse and Addiction Pop-Up Institute to take on the challenge of youth addiction. Whether they are in recovery, studying the way drugs interact with pathways in our brains, or testing interventions to help young people who misuse substances, the members of this pop-up institute seek to bring their different disciplinary and practice perspectives to the discussion around youth addiction and come up with innovative solutions.
Lori Holleran Steiker, the director of the pop-up institute and a professor at the Steve Hicks School of Social Work, told KXAN that bringing people from different backgrounds and disciplines together to address addiction is a career dream come true. She explained that thanks to this effort, university researchers who study the brains of adolescent rats can now meet with counselors and high school leaders to talk about the different challenges they each see with addiction. Holleran Steiker hopes their efforts help to get rid of some of the stigmas around addiction and help families get to treatment and support.
“I think that’s the most important thing is for families to recognize there is hope and there is help,” Holleran Steiker told KXAN.
The institute, which is sponsored by the university’s Office of the Vice President for Research, will last through May 15 and has a robust calendar of events open to the community.