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Marshall kicks-off interdisciplinary lectures on addiction

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The first of a three-part series of lectures focusing on drug addiction and abuse began Thursday in Marshall’s Drinko Atrium.

The lecture, “Your Brain on Drugs: The History and Psychology of Addiction,” was presented by Marshall University associate professor of history, Dr. Chris White, and assistant professor in the psychology department, Dr. Jonathan Day-Brown.

White presented a historical context of drug addiction and access, providing examples and causes of drug addiction from the age of Prohibition to today.

“Historians are always trying to answer why people are doing things,” White said.

Day-Brown discussed how to understand addiction through observing its effects on the brain.

“Your brain has circuits for behaviors,” Day-Brown said. Day-Brown described psychology’s view of addiction based on asking, “How is drug addiction, use and abuse, hijacking those circuits that are the same ones you use for eating or other pleasurable activities?”

The lectures are part of a larger effort by Marshall’s recently created interdisciplinary coalition formed to find solutions to Huntington’s drug crisis across different fields of study, such as medicine, sociology and social work.

“The [goal of the] coalition is to bring different expertise to look at this issue,” said Amy Saunders, the director of student health education programs at Marshall. “We all have different expertise and expertise that we can bring to the table.”

“I think it’s absolutely important that we look at things from an interdisciplinary perspective,” Day-Brown said. “With addiction, it’s such a big problem and there are so many perspectives, and so many people have some percentage of the answer.”

In addition to the lecture, White is involved in a new interdisciplinary substance abuse minor, which will be made available this fall.

“This is an effort to bring as many of us together as possible,” White said.

“We are all working on the same thing, and that’s addiction,” Day-Brown said, describing the new minor as “appropriately unfocused.”

The lecture series will continue into the next week, with the next event taking place Tuesday, April 4. The lecture will feature Kim White from Marshall’s social work department, alongside the sociology department’s Dr. Maggie Stone, as they discuss “Cracks in the Community: Familial and Individual Approaches to Community Interventions in Substance Abuse.”

Austin Creel can be contacted at [email protected]

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