Drugs and Behavior: How Societal Trends Impact Addiction
Since the beginning of the pandemic, few disciplines have seen as many changes as psychology. In order to help students address these emerging challenges, Kent State University’s Department of Psychological Sciences is offering a slate of courses relevant to the changing trends impacting mental health today.
One such course, Drugs and Behavior, taught by William Lechner, Ph.D., assistant professor in Kent State's Department of Psychological Sciences, has continued to increase in popularity since it was first offered in 2017.
The course focuses on pharmacology and the societal implications related to different aspects of substance use. Lechner says his goal is for students to understand the science around models of addiction and to be able to ask the right questions to understand the impacts of addiction.
This understanding is created by examining scientific articles from across different disciplines that look at the opioid epidemic and different topics surrounding addiction to examine the quality of the articles and the impact of these issues.
“I want them to have the initial skills to assess scientific articles but to also show them how many times this has been repeated throughout history. Even now, it hasn’t stopped and it’s unbelievable,” Lechner said.
Lechner believes the class is so popular among students because people not only care about the negative aspects of drugs and addiction, but also are often curious about the psychological effects of different drugs. Much of the course focuses on the opioid epidemic and increasing students' understanding of the magnitude the issue holds.
“You see the same stories over and over again,” said Lechner. “It essentially started with pharmaceutical companies. It’s pretty clear they knew what they were doing, in terms of putting people in danger, and the amount of deaths they would cause.”
The course also is used in the training of undergraduate students in the Addictions Counseling Certificate Experiential Paraprofessional Training Program, also known as ACCEPT, which is part of the Addictions Counseling Certificate Program. The program began in 2021 and it is estimated that at least 104 Kent State undergraduate students will benefit from the program within its first four years.