5 Reasons to Attend the Institute on Alcoholism and Drug Dependencies

Five reasons to attend the APhA's Institute on Alcoholism and Drug Dependencies

Last year, I had the privilege of joining a group of students and faculty from the University of the Sciences that ventured to Salt Lake City, Utah to attend APhA’s Institute on Alcoholism and Drug Dependencies. It was a once-in-lifetime experience and one that has changed my view on alcoholism and substance use disorder. For anyone who has heard about this at his or her school but was “on the fence” about going, here are 5 reasons that might make you hop over the fence and head to Salt Lake City for this conference

1. The City: Salt Lake

Salt Lake City proved to be a city with much life and much love. Whether it is hiking up its terrain, gazing at the great Salt Lake, or enjoying the all the amazing local eateries such as The Red Iguana, this trip will color a beautiful picture of the city!

2. The Knowledge of Addiction

We all have previous connotations of alcoholism, substance abuse, and the infamous word “addiction” that is often tabooed in our society, even today. This conference will allow you to step back and understand the physiology behind addiction, regardless of what the substance may be. You will also learn the various networks and factors related to addition such as the role of codependence in a patient’s life. By the end of the conference, this experience will compel you as health care providers to question whether addiction is a choice or a disease.

3. The Emotional Side to Every Story

Addiction is NOT black and white. It is a story of continuous struggle, temptation, redemption, despair, and hope. From the stories told by guest speakers and recovering addicts, the journey that these individuals have undergone can sometimes seem unbearable and unbelievable to hear or witness. However, please remember: their choice to overcome their cravings or desires for a substance should depict for us as pharmacists their STRENGTH, not their weakness. When they make that recovery decision, let us remember that our job is to support them in whatever way we can to get them one step closer to recovery and relief.

Warning: This experience may cause participants to experience crying fits.

4. The People You Meet

Be prepared to meet A LOT of people! From the guest lecturers that present amazing seminars on alcoholism and substance abuse, recovering addicts and the stories they present, to students and faculty from all over the United States, sharing their own personal stories and advice on how to implement this newfound knowledge into practice, you will leave with a lot of new friends and connections.

5. The Tools You Can Take

The notes you will receive from the APhA Institute are a great resource when you return to campus to share with your teachers and classmates. In addition to this, various chapters Generation Rx from different pharmacy schools will present on how they implemented certain tools in their community. For example, last summer the East Tennessee State University Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy gave a wonderful presentation on being “agents of change” and how they teamed up with their public health department to “volunteer to save a life,” provided naloxone education to the community, and worked with The Boys & Girls Club. They reminded the students to make a “connection through stories” and to “develop a skill set to combat prescription drug abuse and misuse.”

On the last day, a speaker read Luke 12:48: “For everyone to whom much is given, of him shall much be required.” In pharmacy school, it is hard to believe that much is given to us but we have been given an opportunity to serve the public in an extraordinary manner by understanding the therapeutics behind the medicines they take. We as pharmacists should be part of our patients’ antidote of hope to their pain, anxiety, and long-suffering and our profession should be the first to extend a helping hand.

The 3rd Annual Session of the APhA’s Institute on Drug Dependencies will take place from June 1- 4, 2017 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Be prepared to learn, experience, and grow!

A special thank you to Dr. George Downs from The Philadelphia College of Pharmacy for making every effort to bring students like me to this event and allowing us to grow even more as future pharmacists!