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Students Get Better Grasp of Addiction at Institute of Alcoholism and Drug Dependencies

By Jenna Pizzi

Students and faculty at the Insistitute of Alcoholism and Drug DependenciesStudents and faculty from Philadelphia College of Pharmacy attended the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) Institute of Alcoholism and Drug Dependencies in Salt Lake City this past spring. 

The Institute provides students and pharmacists with information about the latest methods and techniques to effectively treat those with drug dependencies and better understand addiction even if they haven’t experienced it themselves.

“The annual program gives students a greater understanding of addiction, so that they can be prepared to treat a patient with addiction in their careers,” said George Downs PharmD’72, professor and dean emeritus. 

Nine students and three faculty members attended this year’s conference and called the experience life changing and insightful.  

“The things that I learned at this conference cannot be taught from a book or clinical trials. They were real life accounts of addiction, the toll they can take on the person, as well as their friends and family, and how we, as future pharmacists, need to start working towards changing the way society views addiction,” said Melissa Weingartner PharmD’19.

An endowed fund initiated by Thomas Trite P’74 supports the funding of the students’ travel to the Institute.

The students heard testimony and talks from people in recovery from addiction, including pharmacists, who became addicted to the drugs they were distributing, and pharmacy students. The individuals spoke about everything from addressing pain treatment with those in recovery, to naloxone access, the implications of medical marijuana use, the causes of addiction, and how things like shame can play a role in someone’s addiction recovery.

“It was very raw and eye opening opportunity to hear these stories and it made me realize that sometimes you never really know what someone is going through in their lives,” said Aphia Oommen PharmD’20.

It was a great opportunity to discuss with medical professionals, pharmacists, and other student pharmacists about the issues facing the profession regarding substance abuse, said Eric Simpson PharmD’20.

“There were discussions on a variety of topics including the role of shame in recovery and the role and effectiveness of Alcoholics Anonymous outreach groups,” said Simpson.

In all, the students said they learned a lot which they will apply to their pharmacy careers, but also compassion for others and a worldview different from their own.

“I can confidently say that this is the best, most meaningful experience I’ve had while in pharmacy school and will be forever grateful,” said Weingartner.

Categories: Students, Faculty, Academics, Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Department of Pharmacy Practice, Pharmacy