Five Minutes With Linda Richter
Welcome to Five Minutes With where we take a few moments to better get to know the CASAColumbia staff. Today we’d like to introduce Linda Richter, Associate Director of the Policy Research and Analysis Division.
What sort of research/work do you do?
I conduct research studies that examine the nature and extent of substance use and addiction, strategies for preventing and treating it, and how best to integrate addiction care into the field of medicine. I’m also interested in exploring the substance-related attitudes and beliefs of individuals in the general population – parents, teens and young adults, educators – and of health professionals in order to better understand and help close the gaps that exist between such beliefs and the scientific evidence.
What inspired you to start doing this research/work?
Working in this field allowed me to put into practice some of the interests and passions that I cultivated in graduate school, which include learning about human psychology, behavior and physiology through research and writing. Substance use and addiction warrant intense focus in their own right, but they also are related to so many other fascinating psychological and social phenomena. Working in this area for the past 15 years has allowed me to delve into a broad range of topics, including adolescent health, eating disorders, obesity, gambling, homelessness, public policy, business, medicine, education, criminal justice and more.
What are you currently working on that you’re most excited about?
For years, the focus of my work has centered on tobacco, alcohol, illicit and prescription drugs. More recently, we’ve begun to explore other compulsive or potentially unhealthy behaviors that appear to have a lot in common with these addictive substances on a physiological, psychological, and social level.
Looking more closely at the addictive qualities that are sometimes associated with food/eating, gambling, sex, the use of technology, etc., can help shed light not only on each of these problems alone, but on how they all might fit together. Also, understanding the underlying nature of various types of addiction may help health professionals provide more comprehensive and effective care to those who already suffer from one or more of them as well as to those who may be at risk for developing addiction.
If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
I like to write and I like to teach so I’d probably try to be a college professor…or a journalist…or a painter…or maybe just a researcher in a slightly different field of health or psychology.
What’s the best concert you’ve ever been to?
Probably a Kinks concert in the late 80’s or early 90’s. It was at the Beacon Theater in Manhattan. They were past their prime but still very fun.