Psychology Dept. Hosts Clinical Social Worker for Addiction Talk

On Feb. 13, licensed clinical social worker Beth Ann Delaney spoke to students in a sit-down lecture about drug addiction, titled “Telling the World About Addiction: What You Need to Know”.

“I love the title,” said Delaney. “There is so much to talk about.

“What is really important to talk about is why does addiction happen, how does it get there, what is the GPS of addiction? Addiction is the end point so how does that happen, because it can happen to you and I, it can happen to all generations, and to a person with any level of education.”

Throughout the lecture, Delaney used the expression, GPS of addiction.

Delaney explained the analogy by saying that addiction is the endpoint and that there is a process that gets a person from where they start in their life to being an addict. She described the “path” that people take to addiction are different for each individual and that no matter what those differences are they can be spotted before they get to the destination, addiction.

The lecture was a relaxed dialogue between Delaney and the students, as Delaney shared stories and knowledge about drug addiction and addicts.

Cabrini Rudnicki
Students and faculty who attended the addiction lecture sat together with clinical social worker Beth Ann Delaney as she facilitated discussion.

Students responded with different inquiries about the topic. Delaney also connected the topic to the fields of interest the students in the room were studying as well as asked what brought the students to the event.

This back and forth dialogue and question and answer style presentation worked to both get the information across while keeping the student engaged. It also showcased the style Delaney takes in working with addicts attempting to fight against their addiction.

Delaney talked about how to identify signs of addiction early and how treatment needed to be varied to be effective for each individual.

“There are so many reasons why treatment will work for some but not for others,” Delaney said. “We cannot look at everyone the same, there is not one person in this room that is the same. So why would we treat you the same, why would we treat someone struggling with different issues by using one model? There is not one model, I have to sit down with someone and figure out how did they get there, find out what they need, how to rework their brain.”

Delaney then went into how the brain plays a role in addiction. By using the analogy of a computer getting a virus, Delaney expressed that addiction and other mental illness that cause neurological problems create complications in the brain and results in a loss.

“Loss is a huge word. What do they lose, family, relationships of all kinds, they lose the good friends, there is no money in their pocket, loss. That loss drives them to continue because the drugs are the stuff that makes them feel better. That depth of their problem because of continuous use changes their entire way of thinking, their social life, and their value system,” she added.

The event was attended by numerous students as well as Dr. Edward Schicatano and Dr. Robert Bohlander, both professors in Wilkes’ psychology department.

“I think we need to be more educated about addiction. I think understanding it takes away the fear and builds compassion. When there is compassion there is more help. Most of the students who attended are already thinking about the importance of valuing addicts as people. There is hope, I think they could be more open-minded to these kinds of changes, we just have to nurture this way of thinking and compassion,” said Schicatano.

Numerous students present were majors from psychology, neuroscience, pharmacy, nursing and more. Students should interest in Delaney’s work and how addiction affects the body as well as how to properly treat patients.

“Remember that we cannot forget that behind the title addict is a good person. Our job in treatment is to bring out that good person, and to rewire their brain to make sure they know that under that there is a really good, smart person,” said Delaney.

Delaney then shared a story of a young woman she worked with over the summer who at the beginning refused to work with Delaney towards helping her get over her addiction. Delaney continued to come back to visit the patient to show her that she wanted to help her.

One thing Delaney said to the women was that she cared about her and wanted to help. Delaney then later sat down with the young woman and asked her to tell her about herself and pushed her to embrace the things in her life that others saw as worthless or weird.

“I was not going to yell or scream or put her down more, that was the way we used to do it, instead I told her I thought she was pretty cool, and no one had ever said that to her clean and sober, “ said Delaney.

Delaney received her degrees from Misericordia and Marywood, her Human Resource Management certificate from Scranton. She also teaches at Misericordia and Lackawanna college. In the fall Delaney will also be teaching a course titled  “Psychology of Addiction” and will be taught online as an elective for students to take.

One thing expressed by students was that the psychology department in comparison to other majors on campus is lacking in resources to provide a proper workplace for students to learn more about addiction and help improve the greater Wilkes-Barre community.

They hope that the addition of Delaney’s course will improve the knowledge about addiction available for students and spark programs and activities to assist members of the community who may be facing mental health and addiction problems.

Nalleyn Nunez, a senior psychology major, also attended the event and commented on what she took from Delaney’s talk.

“We need education with action, we need to not just talk about the problems but go out into the community and carry out long term programs like going into the communities and help individuals out who are facing problems with mental health and addiction,” said Nunez.

“Addiction is something so taboo I feel, and it should not be. If you walk outside of Wilkes-Barre you can see that mental health is something that a lot of people have been affected by,” she added.

“It was wonderful that Beth Ann Delaney was able to come in and speak about it, I wish there was more students so that they could have taken in what she taught us,” she added.

Miranda Zink, a junior psychology and neuroscience major, enjoyed the personal touch to Delaney’s talk.

“(Delaney) was very nice, really casual and nonchalant and talked to students as more of a discussion than as a presentation,” said Zink.

She particularly enjoyed the parts where Delaney shared her own experiences as a social worker and shared her favorite part.

“(It) was really interesting but also could be helpful for someone who has a family member and does not know how to break that boundary.”

“When she said that when you have a client that doesn’t really think anyone cares about them, that you can really break through to them not by constantly bothering them but by just saying ‘hey, how are you doing? I care about you.’ and just saying it until they believe it.”

For more information about upcoming psychology lectures or events, please contact Dr. Edward Schicatano at [email protected].