The Substance Abuse and Sexual Health (SASH) Lab is focused on conducting and disseminating quality substance use and HIV prevention research that highlights the strengths of youth of color, their families, and their communities. 

The SASH Lab is located in the School of Public Health at Yale University under the direction of

Dr. Ijeoma Opara


Research       Advocacy       Education 

Research has indicated that adolescent substance use can lead to addiction in adulthood and the engagement of behaviors that may lead to sexual health and mental health disparities among youth.


Although racial-ethnic minority youth (e.g. Black and Hispanic) typically have lower rates of substance use than their White counterparts, racial-ethnic minority youth experience tend to experience worse outcomes associated with substance use.

At The SASH Lab, we are grounded in three key principles which we believe are essential in developing effective prevention interventions for racial-ethnic minority youth: 

Highlighting strengths and moving away from a deficit lens when working with and for racial-ethnic minority youth

 In our work, although we discuss risk-behaviors that increase chances of poor health outcomes, we also investigate protective factors  that are present and overlooked in research on racial-ethnic minority families and the neighborhoods in which they reside in. Our goal is to infuse protective factors that are commonly found in urban communities and replicate them in other spaces where racial-ethnic minority youth reside. 

Investigating the Role of Racial-Ethnic Pride in Prevention

We believe heavily in promoting the beauty, strength, and resilience of Black and Hispanic youth, their families, and communities

A majority of our work is focused on measuring ethnic-racial identity among Black and Hispanic youth and understanding its relationship with outcomes (e.g. drug use, sexual risk behavior, mental health).

Our research has found that youth whom have high levels of ethnic-racial identity are less likely to engage in  risk behaviors (drug use, condomless sex) and less likely to have poor mental health outcomes. Therefore, the SASH lab is focused on infusing ethnic identity and pride in our research and prevention interventions that are catered for Black and Hispanic youth.

acknowledging race & gender differences in prevention

We have a special interest in  Black female empowerment. Black girls are among the one of the most marginalized groups in the country. We take a stand through our research by highlighting strengths of Black girls and promoting empowerment, gender pride, and racial pride, in order to support Black girls to have healthy developmental outcomes. 

As research primarily views Black girls through a deficit lens, ignoring that Black girls in the U.S. are not a homogenous group, the SASH lab focuses on changing the narrative of Black girls, especially those that live in urban communities in the U.S


Hispanic girls are also a focal interest of ours, and we intend to further incorporate the experiences of Hispanic girls and also Afro-Latina girls especially, as they are often ignored in prevention work.