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The Substance Use Disorders & Behavioral Addictions section of Frontiers in Public Health publishes high-quality fundamental, basic/applied, translational and clinical focused evidence-based reviews and original research across the field of translational and clinical addiction medicine and psychiatry. Substance Use Disorders (SUD) and behavioral addictions are the nation’s most pressing, unmet public health challenge. Currently, 20% of U.S. deaths are attributed to tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs. Drug use and behavioral addictions are important contributors to the reductions in life expectancy, depression and deaths of despair reported in the USA and elsewhere, and risky substance use and addiction are currently the largest preventable causes of death. Behavioral addictions , drug overdose and substance use disorders increased during COVID 19 as access to prevention and treatment drug use increased along with and gaming, gambling, pornography and social isolation.

Areas covered by this section include, but are not limited to:

• Preaddiction - Prevention, Early Intervention, and Treaments

• Opioid Use Disorders - epidemiology, trends, co-occurring illnesses, treatment and prevention

• Cannabis Use Disorder - epidemiology, trends, co-occurring illnesses, treatment and prevention

• Cocaine Use Disorders - epidemiology, trends, co-occurring illnesses, treatment and prevention

• Methamphetamie Use Disorders - epidemiology, trends, co-occurring illnesses, treatment and prevention

• Tobacco and Nicotine Use Disorders - epidemiology, vaping & smoking trends, co-occurring illnesses, treatment and prevention

• Alcohol Use Disorders - epidemiology, trends, co-occurring illnesses, treatment and prevention

• Behavioral Addictions

• Gambling, Gaming, and Sexual Compulsivity

• Sugar, Highly Processed Foods, and Overeating

• Medications for SUDs

• Drugs of Abuse as Treatments in Psychiatry- Ketamine, Psilocybin, Mescaline, LSD, Nitrous Oxide

Bibliometric Articles

After careful discussion with the Chief Editors of Frontiers in Public Health, the journal has decided to no longer accept papers concerning simple bibliometric studies. Authors are still welcome to submit Systematic Reviews using publicly available data, but these must adhere to the PRISMA guidelines (please view a checklist here) and have a conclusion related to public health. Studies that are too clinically focused without relevance to public health will be transferred to a more applicable journal.


Drug overdose deaths in the United States spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic; recent estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that more than 105,000 lives will be lost in 2021. Many of the opioid overdose deaths involved synthetic opioids, including fentanyl. Opioid, cocaine, and methamphetamine deaths increased, much-involving fentanyl. Data show that in many peer countries, 50 percent or more of adults with high-risk opioid use receive medications like methadone that reduce the risk of overdose. In contrast, only 11 percent of Americans with opioid use disorder reported receiving these treatments in 2020. In the USA, opioid overdose kills nearly 200 people a day. Unfortunately, just 10 percent of people who could benefit from treatment get it. Addiction is a progressive illness where use is prioritized over health, and survival-related priorities lose their influence over behaviors and thoughts over time. Where is prevention and early intervention?

We agree with the Directors of NIDA and NIAAA have called for the adoption of the diagnostic term 'preaddiction' to improve early access to interventions and treatment when they are likely to be most successful. Preaddiction can be a new diagnosis like pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes and change the progressive course of the disease with intervention. Prevention works. Primary prevention is relatively inexpensive, including screening and intervention before adverse health outcomes occur. Drug abuse changes the brain, and some changes are not readily reversible. Methamphetamine research has emphasized the relevance of traumatic brain injury to substance use disorders, further supporting the importance of prevention. Besides psychoactive substance ingestion, several behaviors produce short-term rewards that decrease control over the behavior and cause repeat self-stimulation. Behavioral addictions are increasing rapidly, especially with technological innovations and high-speed internet. They can occur by themselves or co-occur with SUDs. The most common are gambling, internet, gaming, sex, shopping, binge eating, and food addictions. They share many features, including progressive course, natural history, phenomenology, tolerance, comorbidity, overlapping genetic contribution, neurobiological mechanisms, and response to treatment. Public health approaches like those that reversed the cigarette smoking epidemic, taxation, non-smokers protections, and others have been underutilized in the other SUDs. At the end of the day, prevention is the only 100% effective treatment when it works.

Edited by Mark S. Gold, MD. Distinguished Life Fellow, the American Psychiatric Association; Distinguished Fellow, American College of Clinical Pharmacology; Distinguished Fellow, American Society of Addiction Medicine; Professor, Neuroscience, Psychiatry, Anesthesiology, Community Health & Family Medicine; Chief, Distinguished Professor, Eminent Scholar, Distinguished Alumni Professor, Chairman and Emeritus Eminent Scholar University of Florida & McKnight Brain Institute- retired ; Emeritus, American College of Psychiatrists; Professor (Adjunct), Department of Psychiatry and National Council, Institute for Public Health, Washington University in St Louis School of Medicine.

Frontiers in Public Health is member of the Committee on Publication Ethics.


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    Front. Public Health

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    5.2 Impact Factor

    3.8 CiteScore

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    PubMed, MEDLINE, PubMed Central (PMC), Scopus, Web of Science Science Citation Index Expanded (SCIE), Google Scholar, DOAJ, CrossRef, Semantic Scholar, Ulrich's Periodicals Directory, CLOCKSS, 1Science, CiteFactor, OpenAIRE, Polska Bibliografia Naukowa (PNB), Zetoc, Norwegian Centre for Research Data (NSD), Bielefeld Academic Search Engine (BASE), JuFo


Substance Use Disorders and Behavioral Addictions welcomes submissions of the following article types: Brief Research Report, Case Report, Classification, Clinical Trial, Community Case Study, Conceptual Analysis, Correction, Curriculum, Instruction, and Pedagogy, Data Report, Editorial, General Commentary, Hypothesis & Theory, Methods, Mini Review, Opinion, Original Research, Perspective, Policy Brief, Policy and Practice Reviews, Review, Study Protocol, Systematic Review, Technology and Code.

All manuscripts must be submitted directly to the section Substance Use Disorders and Behavioral Addictions, where they are peer-reviewed by the Associate and Review Editors of the specialty section.

Open access statement

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Frontiers' philosophy is that all research is for the benefit of humankind. Research is the product of an investment by society and therefore its fruits should be returned to all people without borders or discrimination, serving society universally and in a transparent fashion.

That is why Frontiers provides online free and open access to all of its research publications. For more information on open access click here.

Open access funder and institutional mandates

Frontiers is fully compliant with open access mandates, by publishing its articles under the Creative Commons Attribution licence (CC-BY). Funder mandates such as those by the Wellcome Trust (UK), National Institutes of Health (USA) and the Australian Research Council (Australia) are fully compatible with publishing in Frontiers. Authors retain copyright of their work and can deposit their publication in any repository. The work can be freely shared and adapted provided that appropriate credit is given and any changes specified.


Each Frontiers article strives for the highest quality, thanks to genuinely collaborative interactions between authors, editors and reviewers, who include many of the world's best scientists and scholars. Frontiers is well aware of the potential impact of published research both on future research and on society and, hence, does not support superficial review, light review or no-review publishing models.

Frontiers uses the single anonymized peer review model, where the reviewer identity is not made visible to the author, while the author identity is visible to the reviewer, and reviewer and the authors’ identities are visible to the decision-making editor. Reviewers interact with the handling editor and the authors. Editor and reviewer names and affiliations are published on all Frontiers articles.

Research must be certified by peers before entering a stream of knowledge that may eventually reach the public - and shape society. Therefore, Frontiers only applies the most rigorous and unbiased reviews, established in the high standards of the Frontiers Review System. Furthermore, only the top certified research, evaluated objectively through quantitative online article level metrics, is disseminated to increasingly wider communities as it gradually climbs the tiers of the Frontiers Tiering System from specialized expert readership towards public understanding.

Frontiers has a number of procedures in place to support and ensure the quality of the research articles that are published:

  • 2023

    • Editorial Board Quality

      • Only leading experts and established members of the research community are appointed to the Frontiers Editorial Boards. Chief Editors, Associate Editors and Review Editors are all listed with their names and affiliations on the Journal pages and are encouraged to publicly list their publication credentials.

    • Associate Editor Assignment Quality

      • Associate Editors oversee the peer-review and take the final acceptance decision on manuscripts. Editorial decision power is distributed in Frontiers, because we believe that many experts within a community should be able to shape the direction of science for the benefit of society.

      • Submitting authors can choose a preferred Associate Editor to handle their manuscript, because they can judge well who would be an appropriate expert in editing their manuscript. There is no guarantee for this preference of choice, Associate Editors can decline invitations any time, and the handling Associate Editor can also be over-ridden by the Chief Editor before she/he is invited to edit the article or at any other stage.

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      • Should it become clear that the Associate Editor has a conflict of interest or is unable to perform the peer-review timely and adequately, a new Associate Editor can be assigned to the manuscript by the Chief Editor, who has full control to intervene in the peer-review process at any time.

      • The Associate Editor initially checks that the article meets basic quality standards and has no obvious objective errors.

    • Reviewer Assignment Quality

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      • The Associate Editor is aided in this by the Frontiers Collaborative Review Forum software and interface, which suggests the most relevant Review Editors based on a match between their expertise and the topic of the manuscript. Associate Editors can however choose any reviewer they deem adequate.

      • After a certain time frame and if no reviewers have in the meantime been assigned to the manuscript, the Frontiers platform and algorithmic safety-net steps in and invites the most appropriate Review Editors based on constantly updated and improved algorithms that match reviewer expertise with the submitted manuscript.

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      • Frontiers algorithms are constantly fine-tuned to better match Review Editors with manuscripts, and additional checks are being coded into the platform, for example regarding conflicts of interest.

      • Should it become clear that a particular reviewer has a conflict of interest or is unable to perform the peer-review timely and adequately, he or she shall be replaced with an alternative reviewer by the Associate Editor or the Chief Editor, who will be alerted and has full control to intervene into the peer-review at any time.

    • Independent Review Stage Quality

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    • Interactive Review Stage Quality

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      • Manuscript and review quality at this stage are enhanced by allowing authors and reviewers to discuss directly with each other in real-time until they reach consensus and a final version of the manuscript is endorsed by the reviewers.

      • Reviewer identity is protected at this stage to safeguard complete freedom of opinion.

      • Reviewers can recommend rejection at this stage if their requests to correct objective errors are not being met by the authors or if they deem the article overall of insufficient quality.

      • Should a dispute arise, authors or reviewers can trigger an arbitration and will alert the Associate Editor, who can assign more reviewers and/or bring the dispute to the attention of the Chief Editor. The Associate Editor can also weigh in on the discussion and is asked to mediate the process to ensure a constructive revision stage.

    • Decision Stage Quality

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      • The names of the Associate Editor and reviewers are disclosed on published articles to encourage in depth and rigorous reviews, acknowledge work well done on the article and to bring transparency and accountability into peer-review.

      • Associate Editors can recommend the rejection of an article to the Chief Editor, who needs to check that the authors’ rights have been upheld during the peer-review process, and who can then ultimately reject the article if it is of insufficient quality, has objective errors or if the authors were unreasonably unwilling to address the points raised during the review.

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    • Safeguards against Financial Conflicts of Interest

      • Only leading researchers acting as Associate Editors, who are not part of Frontiers staff, can make acceptance decisions based on reviews performed by external experts acting as Review Editors or reviewers. None have a financial incentive to accept articles, i.e. they are not paid for their role to act as Associate or Review Editors, and any award scheme is not linked to acceptances of manuscripts.

      • Chief Editors receive an honorarium if their specialty section or field reaches certain submission levels. However, this honorarium is based on the total number of submitted articles during a calendar year, and not the number of accepted articles. Therefore they also have no financial incentive to accept manuscripts.

    • Post-Publication Stage Quality

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      • Frontiers has a community retraction protocol in place to retract papers where serious concerns have been raised and validated by the community that warrant retraction, including ethical concerns, honest errors or scientific misconduct.