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Alice Cepeda - USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. Los Angeles, CA, US

Alice Cepeda Alice Cepeda

Associate Professor of Social Work Dept. of Adult Mental Health and Wellness | USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work


Dr. Cepeda focuses on the social epidemiology of drug use and the related health risk behaviors affecting urban Mexican-origin populations.


Alice Cepeda is currently an associate professor. She was previously in the Department of Sociology and associate director of the Center for Drug and Social Policy Research at the University of Houston. She received her doctoral degree from the City University of New York, Graduate Center.

Her work has focused on the social epidemiology of drug use and the related health risk behaviors that disproportionately affect urban Mexican-origin minority populations, including violence, HIV/STI infection risks and mental health conditions. Cepeda’s research has also highlighted the unique gendered experiences encountered by females within this cultural context. Her research publications have explored the complex of social determinants, including familial, neighborhood and socio-ecological factors that contribute to drug use and negative social and health outcomes among vulnerable minority populations.

Cepeda has been a recipient of several federal National Institutes of Health grants. She is currently principal investigator and co-investigator, respectively, on two National Institute on Drug Abuse-funded studies: one examining the long-term health consequences of adolescent gang membership and one on the emergence and diffusion of crack use in Mexico City. Cepeda has also been a multiple recipient and scholar of the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities Loan Repayment Program.

She received the 2010 National Award of Excellence in Research by a New Investigator from the National Hispanic Science Network on Drug Abuse based on her outstanding research and publication in the field of Hispanic drug abuse. She was also a recipient of the 2010 Junior Scholar Award presented by the Drinking and Drugs Division of the Society for the Study of Social Problems. Cepeda is currently chair of the Early Career Leadership Committee for the National Hispanic Science Network on Drug Abuse.

Education (3)

City University of New York: PhD 2004

The University of Texas at San Antonio: MS 1999

The University of Texas at San Antonio: BA 1995

Areas of Expertise (7)

Urban Affairs HIV and AIDS Drug Use and Abuse Social Work Social Work Education Latino Communities Mental Health

Industry Expertise (4)

Social Services Research Education/Learning Health and Wellness


Articles & Publications (3)

An Adapted Brief Strategic Family Therapy for Gang-Affiliated Mexican American Adolescents Research on Social Work Practice

Avelardo Valdez, Alice Cepeda, Danielle Parrish, Rosalind Horowitz, Charles Kaplan


This study assessed the effectiveness of an adapted Brief Strategic Family Therapy (BSFT) intervention for gang-affiliated Mexican American adolescents and their parents.

A total of 200 adolescents and their family caregivers were randomized to either a treatment or a control condition. Outcomes included adolescent substance use, conflict resolution, gang identification, parent substance use knowledge, gang awareness, family cohesion, child conduct problems and stress...

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Drug-scene familiarity and exposure to gang violence among residents in a rural farming community in Baja California, Mexico Global public health

Tyson Volkmann, Miguel A Fraga, Stephanie K Brodine, Esmeralda Iñiguez-Stevens, Alice Cepeda, John P Elder, Richard S Garfein, VIIDAI Team


We examined drug-scene familiarity and exposure to gang violence among residents of a migrant farming community in rural Baja California, Mexico. In October 2010, 164 members of a single colonia (community) underwent an interviewer-administered survey to assess ‘exposure to gang violence’ and ‘drug-scene familiarity’, as well as other health indicators. Logistic regression was used to identify correlates of exposure to gang violence...

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Disparities in completion of substance abuse treatment among Latino subgroups in Los Angeles County, CA Addictive behaviors

Erick G Guerrero, Alice Cepeda, Lei Duan, Tina Kim


A growing body of research has revealed disparities with respect to drug use patterns within Latino subgroups. However, the extent to which these potential disparities enable different Latino subgroups to respond favorably to treatment is unclear.

This study analyzed a subset of multicross-sectional data (2006–2009) on Latinos collected from publicly funded facilities in Los Angeles County, CA (N = 12,871)...

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