Tomorrow’s lecture is important

I usually don’t make statements like this. I think all our lectures (in any class) better be important – or we shouldn’t have them. But I feel pretty strongly about tomorrow’s lecture, which is about addiction and substance use disorder.

We’ve had some great talks about the opioid crisis over the past couple years – and I really liked the Naloxone training session you hosted earlier this month. It’s so important to develop a sense of how to safely prescribe opioids – and I think the sessions I’ve sat in on have done a great job of describing the crisis and laying out appropriate guidelines for healthcare professionals.

I also think that we should talk about addiction itself – and that’s where this lecture comes in. To my knowledge, there aren’t many places in our curriculum where we address what substance use disorder is.

For example, what happens in the brain as an addiction develops? A common misperception about addiction is that the addict simply lacks willpower – but that isn’t true. The part of the brain that mediates logical thought (the prefrontal cortex) actually “goes offline” (becomes disconnected) over time as an addiction becomes entrenched – and willpower/logical thought/all the consequences in the world eventually are no match for the power of the reward circuit in the brain. You may have experienced a mild version of this if you’ve overindulged in something sugary, then felt like crap and said “never again” (and meant it!) – only to find yourself staring at an empty pint of Ben and Jerry’s while stressed out studying for an exam. What happened?!

Anyway…I want to be sure that we talk about addiction from the patient’s point of view so you understand a bit about what the disease is like. The person giving the lecture (Dustin Chapman) is a great speaker with years of experience as a drug and alcohol counselor – and he’ll talk about a bunch of important stuff including:

  • how the brain changes during (and after) addiction
  • the most important risk factor for developing substance use disorder
  • myths (and truths) about addiction
  • signs and symptoms of mild to severe substance use disorder
  • treatment options
  • things to consider when you’re out in practice

We won’t have test questions on this lecture because the material doesn’t really lend itself to multiple choice questions. But I’ll post a few short-answer questions for you to work through, and you’ll get 10 points if you complete them.

We’ve had a lot of great feedback on this lecture, and a few students have even found it profoundly useful in their own lives – so I hope to see you tomorrow if you’re around! And if not, I’d encourage you to watch the Mediasite presentation when you get a chance.

 

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