Texas Tech University

Exploring Substance and Behavior Addiction and Recovery in Central Europe: Journey Abroad with Community, Family, and Addiction Sciences Students

Matilda Beckanovic

August 28, 2023


Thomas Kimball’s study abroad course focuses on examining the family dynamics of substance and behavioral addiction and recovery

Community, Family, and Addiction Sciences faculty member Thomas Kimball, Ph.D., offered a study abroad opportunity this summer in Prague, Czech Republic. Kimball taught ADRS 4000: Family Dynamics and Education Processes of Addiction and Recovery in Europe, a course that examines the family dynamics of substance and behavioral addiction and recovery. The course explored specific references to understanding the factors and influences of substance use disorders, addiction, and the recovery process, with specific emphasis on addiction and recovery in Central Europe. 

“We want students to have a safe and life-changing experience in Central Europe,” Kimball said. “Prague is a city with rich art, architecture, and political history, and students come away having a wonderful experience in a beautiful city but also with an appreciation for its history.”

Students learned to understand the differences and similarities between how addiction and recovery are handled in the United States and how it's handled in the Czech Republic and Central European cultures. Students got the opportunity to interact and visit both privately run and publicly run treatment centers. Kimball said students also had a chance to interact with both staff and clients in these facilities. 

“Students should come away from this course having a good understanding of severe substance use disorder, the family dynamics surrounding both addiction and recovery,” Kimball said. “The students also understand the intersection between broader mental health and substance use disorders with a focus on how people take care and manage these issues most effectively.”  

Kimball said the relationships formed between the students and those from other countries, their ability to see things from different perspectives, and building confidence in traveling abroad and learning to navigate another city are just a few of the ways that students grow and benefit from this study abroad course. Kimball shares his favorite experience working with students abroad. 

“I love the relationships you can form with students while studying abroad,” Kimball said. “Not only are you able to interact with them every day, but traveling really helps to bond people together. Being a mentor and being able to help them navigate the hard parts of studying abroad is so rewarding.”