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Addiction 101

Learn the basics of addiction in twenty minutes.

About this Course

Understand the basics of addiction, including how it affects the brain, why some people are more susceptible to developing an addiction, and how addiction can be prevented and treated.


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Course Curriculum


  Welcome
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  Addiction and the Brain
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  Risk and Protection
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  Language Matters
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  Further Reading
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Your Instructors

Jessica Hulsey Nickel, President, Addiction Policy Forum

Jessica Hulsey Nickel is the founder of the Addiction Policy Forum, a national nonprofit organization that leads the fight against the deadly consequences of addiction and helps patients, families, and communities affected by the disease. Jessica a is national expert with more than 25 years in the field.

Jessica has worked with our nation’s top scientists to translate the science of addiction into digestible information for patients, families and other key audiences. Jessica has conducted numerous CME trainings for medical professionals and other key stakeholder groups. She created and spearheads Addiction Policy Forum’s Emergency Medicine Initiative, a partnership with the Yale School of Medicine and the American College of Emergency Physicians, as well the Addiction Policy Forum’s Scientific Advisory Board (SAB). The SAB provides strategic guidance and direction for Addiction Policy Forum’s research and scientific programs, guides key priorities, and includes experts in medicine, psychiatry, addiction treatment, research, and public health. It is chaired by Dr. Robert DuPont, M.D., the first Director of the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse and the second White House Drug Czar, and Dr. Mark S. Gold, M.D., Adjunct Professor at the Washington University School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry.

Brian Fuehrlein, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry; Director, Psychiatric Emergency Room, VA Connecticut Healthcare System

Dr. Fuehrlein graduated from the M.D. Ph.D. program at the University of Florida in 2008, adult psychiatry residency program the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in 2012 and addiction psychiatry fellowship from Yale University in 2013. Dr. Fuehrlein then joined the faculty at the University of Florida where he was an Assistant Professor. He served as the director of an MS2 course on pain and addiction, the assistant MS3 psychiatry clerkship director, was on the medical school admissions committee and on the M.D. Ph.D. program executive committee. Dr. Fuehrlein then joined the Yale faculty as an Assistant Professor in 2014. He is currently the director of the psychiatric emergency room at the VA Connecticut. Dr. Fuehrlein has a strong interest in medical student and resident education, particularly surrounding addiction psychiatry. He currently serves on the medical school admissions committee, residency recruitment committee and is the VA site representative for medical student education. He serves nationally on the ABPN MOC test writing committee and the education committee for the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry. In 2017 he was awarded the Irma Bland award for excellency in psychiatry resident education through the APA. In 2018 he was awarded the Clerkship Faculty Teaching Award for Outstanding Medical Student Educator and Role Model. In 2016-2017 he was nominated for and completed the Yale Medical Education Fellowship and in 2018 was selected as an Education Scholar through the Association of Directors of Medical Student Education in Psychiatry.

James H. Berry, DO, West Virginia University Associate Professor and Vice Chair; Director of Addictions Department of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry

Dr. James H. Berry DO is associate professor and Vice Chair of the Department of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry at West Virginia University School of Medicine and the Director of Addictions. He is board certified in both General Psychiatry and Addiction Psychiatry. He received his medical degree from Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine, completed a General Psychiatry residency at West Virginia University and an Addiction Psychiatry fellowship at the University of Hawaii. Practicing in Appalachia for the past sixteen years, Dr. Berry has a unique vantage point as a witness to the unfolding opioid epidemic afflicting our nation. He and his colleagues at WVU have developed innovative community-based treatment models in response to the addiction crisis and are actively engaged in groundbreaking neuroscience research related to addiction. He is a dedicated clinician and enthusiastic educator.

He currently overseas a statewide mentoring project to train rural clinicians in evidence based substance use disorder treatment that they may effectively treat addiction in their local communities. Nationally, he serves on the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology’s Addiction Psychiatry Examination Committee and the American Board of Medical Specialties, Safety in Opioid Prescribing Committee. In addition, he is a member of the Academy for Integrating Behavioral Health and Primary Care’s National Integrational Academy Council. He has enjoyed advocating on behalf of those suffering from mental illness and addiction at local town hall meetings, state legislative sessions and national educational venues highlighting the nature of the disease and the hope of recovery. Dr. Berry’s work and opinions have led to interviews with local, state and national media sources such as PBS’s NOVA, Politico, NPR and the Huffington Post.

Marc Potenza, PhD, MD, Director, Center of Excellence in Gambling Research; Director, Women and Addictive Disorders, Women's Health Research at Yale, Yale University School of Medicine

Dr. Potenza is a board-certified psychiatrist with sub-specialty training and certification in addiction psychiatry. He has trained at Yale University receiving a combined BS/MS with Honors in Molecular Biochemistry and Biophysics and a PhD in Cell Biology, the latter concurrent with the MD through the Medical Scientist Training Program. He completed internship, psychiatric residency and addiction psychiatry fellowship training at Yale. Currently, he is a Professor of Psychiatry, Child Study and Neurobiology at the Yale University School of Medicine where he is Director of the Problem Gambling Clinic, the Center of Excellence in Gambling Research, and the Women and Addictive Disorders Core of Women's Health Research at Yale, and Senior Scientist at the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling. He is on the editorial boards of fifteen journals (including editor-in-chief of Current Addiction Reports) and has received multiple national and international awards for excellence in research and clinical care. He has consulted to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, National Registry of Effective Programs, National Institutes of Health, American Psychiatric Association and World Health Organization on matters of addiction.

Frequently Asked Questions


When does the course start and finish?
The course starts now and never ends! It is a completely self-paced online course - you decide when you start and when you finish.
How long do I have access to the course?
How does lifetime access sound? After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this course for as long as you like - across any and all devices you own.
What will the course cover?
This course will cover the basic brain science of addiction, the risk factors that make development of an addiction more likely and the protective factors that help prevent addiction, and the availability of treatments when someone does develop an addiction.

Get started now!