STEM Shoutout: Dr. Katie Witkiewitz and Dr. Brandi Fink

A proposal selected for the UNM Research Grand Challenges aims to reduce the amount of substance use disorders in New Mexico.

Dr. Katie Witkiewitz, a Regents’ Professor in the Department of Psychology, and Dr. Brandi Fink, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, proposed this research and have composed a plan to follow it through. Their proposal is as follows:

“By 2040, we will reduce alcohol, opioid, and other substance mortality by 50 percent, substance-related consequences (including overdose, injury, and accidents) by 50 percent, crime, incarceration, and recidivism by 30 percent, adverse childhood experiences by 30 percent, and overall economic costs of substance related morbidity by 30 percent.”

Witkiewitz and Fink proposed this project to improve the lives of New Mexicans.

New Mexico has the lowest high school graduation rates and ranks among the top five of US states for accidental death, suicide, underemployment, child poverty, and crime,” Witkiewitz said.

To address these issues, Witkiewitz and Fink have created a team to conduct research to decrease substance use and its effects on the community.

“We propose to intervene in 20 of the most severely affected communities throughout the state. This intervention will also coordinate, integrate and enhance ongoing interventions throughout multiple systems, including primary care, specialty treatment programs, the justice systems, and schools and communities,” Fink said.

Both Witkiewitz and Fink are confident in their team’s skills to research prevention, treatment, and policy efforts in New Mexico.

“Most importantly, our team is committed to improving the lives of New Mexicans through research and best practices,” Witkiewitz said.