In his 2016 State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama noted a bipartisan priority for the coming year: helping people who are battling heroin and prescription drug abuse.
Three upcoming one-day workshops from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Continuing Studies will help a variety of professionals better understand the problems associated with drugs of abuse. Understanding Addiction: Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘n’ Roll (March 14), Current Trends in Pharmacology: Heroin and Other Opiates (April 11), and Advanced Pharmacology: Effects of Substances of Abuse (May 9) are geared toward substance abuse professionals, mental health providers, health and human services providers, and educators, among others. All three workshops take place at the UW Pyle Center.
Understanding Addiction: Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘n’ Roll is led by David Mays, a forensic psychiatrist who serves on the clinical faculty at UW–Madison. The workshop will explore the biological basis of the commonly identified features of addiction: genetic vulnerability, salience, reward, withdrawal, and relapse. Mays will make connections between substance abuse and pathological gambling, obsessive shopping, and other addictions.
“Participants will see how addiction utilizes the same brain mechanisms that are active in romantic love and our survival instincts,” Mays says. “They will be able to reflect on how difficult it is to resist these instincts—for some people harder than others, but we all have problems with dopamine reinforced behaviors.”
Participants in Understanding Addiction: Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘n’ Roll will also learn about the DSM-5 revisions for substance use disorders, and about evidence-based treatment options for clients with compulsive behaviors and comorbidity.
“This workshop is unique in that it combines biology, reflections about human behavior, and clinical teaching based on best practices in mental health,” Mays says. “It’s relevant now because on the one hand, there is so much misinformation being presented on the Internet and popular media that seems to promise quick, biologically based solutions. On the other hand, longstanding biases in traditional addiction treatment exist that should be challenged. These issues have not been resolved by any means, but we will attempt to separate the wheat from the chaff.”
Beginning and advanced pharmacology
Current Trends in Pharmacology: Heroin and Other Opiates is led by Tom Nelson, a drug information and substance abuse consultant for state treatment agencies and school districts. Nelson, a registered pharmacist, also serves as the pharmacy clinical coordinator at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.
Appropriate for beginners to advanced practitioners, Nelson’s workshop focuses on heroin and other opiate drugs that are available on the street. He will explore the fundamentals of neurotransmission, the key to understanding all substances of abuse. Participants will learn about the effect of opioids on the brain, the signs of opiate abuse and withdrawal, and the latest trends for treatment.
Nelson will also lead Advanced Pharmacology: Effects of Substances of Abuse, aimed at professionals who already have a basic understanding of the pharmacology of drugs of abuse. This workshop will provide in-depth information about the impact of stimulants and depressants on the brain, body, and behavior. Participants will learn to identify drugs of abuse that directly affect the reward or pleasure center in the human brain, along with understanding the unique effects of cannabis.
For more information about Understanding Addiction: Sex, Drugs, and Rock ‘n’ Roll; Current Trends in Pharmacology: Heroin and Other Opiates; and Advanced Pharmacology: Effects of Substances of Abuse, contact Kristi Obmascher, firstname.lastname@example.org, 608-262-8971.