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A Different Kind of "R&R" (Rehab and Recovery)

UHCOP Team Gains New Perspectives on Clinical, Social Issues at APhA Institute on Alcoholism and Drug Dependencies

A team of six UH College of Pharmacy Pharm.D. students and a faculty member specializing in pediatric/adolescent pharmacy gained new perspectives on clinical and social aspects of substance abuse during the 2017 American Pharmacists Association Institute on Alcoholism and Drug Dependences May 30-June 4 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The UHCOP team that attended this year's institute comprised Pharm.D. students Sean Badal, Stephanie Crowley, Nancy Khong, Katie Rascon, Breanna Russ and Jeff Tu along with Clinical Assistant Professor Joy Alonzo, M.E., Pharm.D., who serves as clinical pharmacy consultant for Texas Childen's Health Plan.

photo of utah experience team
The 'Utah Experience' attendees were, from left, students Katie Rascon, Jeff Tu, Breanna Russ and Sean Badal; faculty member Joy Alonzo; and students Stephanie Crowley and Nancy Khong.

The institute's origins date back to 1951 with the establishment of The University of Utah School on Alcoholism and Other Drug Dependencies. In 1983, the APhA developed a section for pharmacists and pharmacy students at the school that ran for 32 years. In 2014, however, The University of Utah elected to discontinue offering the program, but the following year, the APhA began re-launched the institute on its own.

According to the APhA website, "The Institute assists individuals in finding treatment, support them in ongoing recovery, and facilitate reentry into pharmacy practice or pharmacy education. Institute programming provides attendees with the latest methods and techniques for working effectively towards this purpose. The Institute also strives to provide a perspective for those who would like to understand addiction even if they have not experienced it themselves."

"The Institute is very impactful and includes discussions on pathophysiology of addiction, treatment modalities, and therapeutic considerations, as well as social issues surrounding these disease states," Alonzo said. "Students were invited to attend AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) meetings and Al Anon meetings, and there were many testimonies from recovered clinicians and the adjudication of the Pharmacist and Physician Recovery Networks (substance abuse resources and programs offered through professional organizations and in cooperation with state licensing boards)."

Making her second trip to the institute, Crowley said the program provided invaluable insights into substance abuse that will help further her personal extracurricular projects and benefit the entire Pharm.D. student body. Crowley is not only working a substance abuse/addiction-focused project in her role as a 2017 Houston-Galveston Albert Schweitzer Fellow, but also co-developing a College-wide Convocation in her role as Generation Rx senior chair in the APhA-Academy of Student Pharmacists' UHCOP Chapter.

"At the institute, we learned about the various clinical presentations of illicit substances and I’ve had first-hand experience seeing many of them in real life," Crowley said.