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Chapman: Four Decades of Addictions Counseling Expertise

September 1, 2012

Robert Chapman, PhD, brings 40 years of experience to his Behavioral Health Counseling faculty position as well as substance use disorder and addiction expertise. He is driven by a desire to reduce the human costs associated with high-risk alcohol consumption behaviors that are all too common among college students and young adults.

Between the late 1980s and early 2000s, a significant increase in funding alcohol-related community education, assessments and screenings emerged. During that time, Chapman began researching college students’ drinking habits, focusing his efforts on qualitative research based on student interviews. His findings suggest that, in present-day collegiate life, alcohol has become a means of escape, a way to achieve social objectives, and simply an interesting source of stories for college students to share with one another the following morning. However, the primary dilemma facing college students is that they struggle between two objectives simultaneously: getting an education as well as having a good time, which means that the pursuit of either one may compromise the acquisition of the other. Most college students find a way to balance these two objectives, but for some, the struggle is overwhelming. This is particularly the case during the first year of a college student’s academic career.

A largely overlooked problem on which Chapman has increasingly focused his attention is the risk presented by collegiate life to young adults who are in the early stages of recovery from alcohol and substance use disorders. An ever-increasing number of adolescents are diagnosed with substance use disorders and enter treatment while still in high school. Frequently, these students are little more than a few months “clean and sober” when they enter college. The ready availability of alcohol and other drugs on college campuses presents a particularly challenging environment for these newly-recovering students. To address this issue, Chapman mentored a recovering BHC student who completed an independent study resulting in the creation of Drexel University Recovery, or DUR. This officially-sanctioned student organization is designed to provide support for recovering students at Drexel.

Chapman is regularly invited to give guest lectures by various College of Nursing and Health Professions departments. He gives an annual guest lecture to incoming students in the Physician Assistant program, and is a regular presenter on behavior modification techniques for the Center for Integrated Nutrition & Performance’s weight management program for Drexel faculty and staff. Additionally, he has delivered a number of lectures on Motivational Interviewing to residents during their psychiatry rotation at Hahnemann Hospital.