Gila Community College is again offering the study in substance abuse class this fall, taught by Jane Fender.
Fender hopes to help students gain a deeper understanding of the complexities of substance abuse. She plans to cover a range of topics, including a history of drug use, drugs in the media, legal and illegal drugs, law enforcement and harm reduction.
The class can help families and friends of those affected by substance abuse recognize the signs, intervene and get help.
“We had a really nice group last year,” said Fender, “varying ages from college to parents and older. They worked really well together.”
Fender hopes to cover the origins of substance abuse, psychological and biological effects and legal, social and treatment issues.
“Addiction is a disease, some people have addictive tendencies. Medically they’re addicts. That’s not their fault,” Fender said. “They need to have education about addiction. We tried the ‘just say no’ (to drugs) and that didn’t work, right now we’re looking for answers.”
The class will also cover pharmaceutical drugs and their usage.
“It is a good class for students who want to get into counseling or be a social worker,” Fender said. “It’s a three-credit hours class, transferable to ASU, NAU or UofA. As a social studies elective, social science majors will want to take this class to build a foundation for future learning and achieve greater awareness of society. It’s also good for anyone who has personal experience with addiction, or has a friend or relative they’re worried about.”
Fender said parents and grandparents will learn about the dangers of leaving their prescription drugs accessible.
“People who have no personal interest in drugs may not recognize the signs that someone they know is taking too many Percocet (for example). There is a tendency to think the doctor prescribed them so it must be OK.”
The potential mix of students will add a richer understanding to the substance abuse phenomenon, benefiting students seeking knowledge to enrich their lives and those also seeking academic credit, she said.
“We’re not trying to judge anyone or whisk them off to rehab,” Fender stressed. “Students will be encouraged to voice their opinions and beliefs.”
She added, “I’m not a person who pretends to know everything, we’ll learn together. Everyone’s experience is different.”
Fender has taught at Gila Community College for eight years.
Study of Substance Abuse SSE121, is Mondays from 6 p.m. to 8:50 p.m. at GCC Payson campus.
Fender also teaches Introduction to Sociology SOC1101 on Mondays and Wednesdays from 2:30 p.m. to 3:50 p.m. at GCC Payson campus.
Students are encouraged to register in person at the Payson campus, 201 N. Mud Springs Road or call 928-468-8039.
Tuition is waived for Arizona residents age 55 and older.