Sheila Specker

Associate Professor


I received my BA in chemistry from the College of St.Catherine, MN, and completed medical school here at the University of Minnesota. I completed my residency in family practice from the University of Wisconsin, a residency in psychiatry, and a fellowship in addiction medicine from the University of Minnesota. I am an Associate Professor and addiction psychiatrist in the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences. I am Program Director for the Addiction Medicine Fellowship which trains physicians of all specialties in addiction and co-occurring psychiatric disorders.

My research interests include substance abuse and related compulsive behaviors with co-morbid conditions, especially in women; medication development for substances of abuse, and healthcare professionals with substance user psychiatric disorders. I am also a co-investigator on the use of neuroimaging approaches to identify circuit abnormalities in addiction. Pharmacotherapies for the treatment of cocaine use disorder have also been a focus of research. I have also given grand rounds presentations nationwide and have presented both nationally and internationally at more than 70 conferences. I am board certified in both family practice and psychiatry and certified by the American Society of Addiction Medicine as a physician specialist in substance abuse and by the American Board of Psychiatry in addiction psychiatry. I was selected as a Top Doctor in Minneapolis-St. Paul Magazine in 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2021.


  • Eating disorders
  • Substance use disorders
  • Addictive disorders

Administrative Assistant

(for academic support only)
Natasha Hampton-Anderson

In the Media

Research Summary

Dr. Specker's research is focused around substance abuse and related compulsive behaviors with co-morbid conditions, especially in women; medication development for substances of abuse; and Health Care Professionals with substance user psychiatric disorders.


MD, University of Minnesota
BA, College of St. Catherine
Major: Chemistry

Fellowships, Residencies, and Visiting Engagements

Psychiatry Residency,
University of Minnesota
Addiction Medicine Fellowship,
University of Minnesota
Family Practice Residency,
University of Wisconsin- Madison

Licensures and Certifications

Physician and Surgeon - Wisconsin
Certification as Physician Specialist in Addiction Medicine, American Society of Addiction Medicine/American Board of Preventative Medicine
Physician and Surgeon - Minnesota

Honors and Recognition

Top Doctors in Minnesota (multiple), Minneapolis/St. Paul Magazine
Top Doctors, Minnesota Monthly
Harold Lawn Award for Best Faculty Paper

Professional Memberships

International Doctors in Alcoholics Anonymous
American Society of Addiction Medicine
Minnesota Women in Psychiatry
American Psychiatric Association
Minnesota Psychiatric Society
Addiction Medicine Fellowship Directors' Association
Selected Publications

Selected Publications

Levin, F. R., Mariani, J. J., Specker, S., Mooney, M., Mahony, A., Brooks, D. J., Babb, D., Bai, Y., Eberly, L. E., Nunes, E. V., Grabowski, J., 2015. Extended-release mixed amphetamine salts vs placebo for comorbid adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and cocaine use disorder a randomized clinical trial. JAMA Psychiatry, 72 (6): 593-603.
Meller, W., Specker, S., Schultz, P., Kishi, Y., Thurber, S., Kathol, R., 2015. Using the INTERMED complexity instrument for a retrospective analysis of patients presenting with medical Illness, substance use disorder, and other psychiatric Illnesses. Annals of Clinical Psychiatry, 27 (1): 39-43.
Camchong, J., MacDonald, A. W., Mueller, B. A., Nelson, B., Specker, S., Slaymaker, V., Lim, K. O., 2014. Changes in resting functional connectivity during abstinence in stimulant use disorder: A preliminary comparison of relapsers and abstainers. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 139 145-151.
Camchong, J., MacDonald, A. W., Nelson, B., Bell, C., Mueller, B. A., Specker, S., Lim, K. O., 2011. Frontal hyperconnectivity related to discounting and reversal learning in cocaine subjects. Biological Psychiatry, 69 (11): 1117-1123.
Jones, J. A.H., Lim, K. O., Wozniak, J. R., Specker, S., MacDonald, A. W., 2013. Context-processing abilities in chronic cocaine users. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 27 (3): 687-695.
doi: PubMed ID: 23586455.
Book, S. W., Thomas, S. E., Smith, J. P., Randall, P. K., Kushner, M. G., Bernstein, G. A., Specker, S. M., Miller, P. M., Randall, C. L, 2013. Treating individuals with social anxiety disorder and at-risk drinking: phasing in a brief alcohol intervention following paroxetine. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 27 (2): 252-258.
Crow, S. J., Peterson, C. B., Swanson, S. A., Raymond, N. C., Specker, S., Eckert, E. D., Mitchell, J. E., 2009. Increased mortality in bulimia nervosa and other eating disorders. American Journal of Psychiatry, 166 (12): 1342-1346.
Specker, S., Meller, W. H., Thurber, S., 2009. Psychiatric consultation and substance use disorders. Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment, 3 (1): 93-98.
doi: PubMed ID: 24357934.
Lim, K. O., Wozniak, J. R., Mueller, B. A., Franc, D. T., Specker, S. M., Rodriguez, C. P., Silverman, A. B., Rotrosen, J. P., 2008. Brain macrostructural and microstructural abnormalities in cocaine dependence. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 92 (1-3): 164-172.
De Zwaan, M., Mitchell, J. E., Crosby, R. D., Mussell, M. P., Raymond, N. C., Specker, S. M., Seim, H. C., 2005. Short-term cognitive behavioral treatment does not improve outcome of a comprehensive very-low-calorie diet program in obese women with binge eating disorder. Behavior Therapy, 36 (1): 89-99.
Selected Presentations

Selected Presentations

Specker, S. M. "Toward Beneficence: Ethical Controversies and Evolving Views on the Involuntary Treatment of Substance Use Disorders", American Psychiatric Association Annual Conference, May 23, 2017.
Specker, S. M. "Progesterone in Cocaine Abuse: Gender Differences", College on Problems of Drug Dependence, Scottsdale, Arizona, June 14, 2010.
Specker, S. M. "Effect of Progesterone on Cocaine Craving and Psychological Measures in Men and Women", AAAP 19th Annual Meeting and Symposium, Boca Raton, Florida, December 07, 2008.
Specker, S. M. "Phenytoin and Nefazodone in the Treatment of Cocaine Abuse. Analysis of Relapse Dynamics in Cocaine-Using Women", NIDA P50 Center Grant Conference, October 26, 2000.
Specker, S. M. "Effectiveness of Nefazodone in Women with Cocaine Abuse", NIDA P50 Center Grant Conference, May 17, 1999.
Specker, S. M. "Relapse and Coping Skills Questionnaire", Training Workshop, IPSER, Maastricht, Netherlands, April 03, 1998.
Specker, S. M. "Women with Cocaine Abuse: Update", NIDA P50 Center Grant Conference, March 14, 1998.
Specker, S. M. "Relapse and Coping Skills", Biomed II: European Drug Abuse Consortium, IPSER, Athens, Greece, October 10, 1997.
Crosby, C., Specker, S. M., Borden, J., Tarleton, S., Hatsukami, D. "Relapse and Coping Skills of Cocaine Using Women", College on Problems of Drug Dependence, Puerto Rico, Spain, June 25, 1996.
Specker, S. M. "Dual Disorders: Co-Morbid Psychiatry and Substance Use Disorder", National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, (2008-2009),



Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, F282/2A West Building, 2450 Riverside Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55454