Students ‘walk the walk’ of an addict in Penn State Harrisburg class

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — How can college students join the fight against opioids?

It’s a question an assistant teaching professor at Penn State Harrisburg says starts in the classroom.

Dr. Weston Kensinger says the best way to teach people about addiction is to give them hands-on experience. His new class, offered to health studies students, asks students to give up something they love and could be addictive, like coffee, video games or social media. The students had to keep journals on their experiences.

“I asked them to give it up for 30 days and see how it affected their life, social life, to see how hard it was on them emotionally and physically,” Kensinger said.

He also asked them to attend Narcotics Anonymous meetings to talk to people about what it’s like to be addicted to drugs. He says the goal was to give class discussions a human face.

“When they show up to the meeting and they see the members pull up in Audi’s, Jaguar’s, dressed in business suits, it really helps them understand this affects everybody,” said Kensinger.

He says many of his students plan to work in the healthcare field and will one day be the “people on the ground” fighting the opioid epidemic.

The school says they plan to offer the class again. They also hope to expand programming related to opioid and addiction studies.

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