By Osefame Ewaleifoh (PhD/MPH Candidate)
Last week the U.S Surgeon Dr. Vivek Murthy published the first-ever Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health, a comprehensive report on substance misuse and how we can use what we know to address substance misuse and related consequences. It is highly recommended reading and can be found here.The last chapter of the Report presents a vision for the future, five general messages, implications for policy and practice, as well as recommendations for specific stakeholder groups. While there is very little new data in the report, it has drawn wide acclaim and been compared to the 1964 U.S. surgeon general’s report on the health impacts of smoking, which helped shaped the public and government’s attitudes toward tobacco for years to come. There is reason to hope.
To draw attention to the growing Opioids addiction locally, we recently hosted the Northwestern Interdisciplinary Opioids symposium. The Opioids Symposium on October 20, 2016 was an opportunity for all of us to come together to search for creative alternative approaches to the growing opioids epidemic as traditional ones fail. As we saw throughout the day, too many of the existing interventions remain siloed, creating vital gaps in what needs to be a holistic response. We hope the symposium was one small step in a growing movement of invested and engaged individuals working together to address this tragic trend.
For those of you who missed parts of the day or who would like to revisit some of the panels, each panel can be seen below.
The first panel focused on Causes, Costs, and Consequences of opioid use on the economy and the individual featured Dr.Richard J. Miller,Alfred Newton Richards Professor of Pharmacology and Interdepartmental Neuroscience of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and William Evans,Keough Hesburgh Professor and Chair of the Department of Economics, Notre Dame and was Moderated by Craig Garthwaite,Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management, Associate Professor of Strategy.
Our second panel moderated by Feinberg Physcian Patrick Lane M.D, focused on Addiction and acute and chronic Pain Management and Dr. Gregory Teas, Psychiatrist,Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Program, Dr. Patrice A. Harris, Chair of the American Medical Association Board of Trustees and Darlie Simerson, Nurse Practitioner at Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. This panel was also summarized in one of our previous posts.
Over the working lunch, US Attorney for Northern District of Illinois, Zachary Fardon, led the discussion on going outreach and legal efforts within the Attorney’s office to address addiction around Illinois and in neighboring Midwestern states.
The fourth Plenary session moderated by Candice Player, Assistant Professor of Law, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law focused on how Chicagoland is responding to the opioids epidemic by bringing together different Chicago-based speakers to discuss how the city and its different organizations are responding to the epidemic – and the issues they are facing. This session featured Stephen Patton, Chicago Corporation Counsel, Julie Morita, Commissioner, Chicago Department of Public Health,Michael Nerheim, Lake County States Attorney and Dan Lustig, Vice-President of Clinical Services, Haymarket Center.
The fifth and final plenary session of the day moderated by Juliet Sorensen, Harry R. Horrow Professor in International Law, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law focused on Innovative ways to address the epidemic – from changing how prescribing practices and pain management are taught and administered, to changing how communities respond to addiction. This session featured Dennis A. Wichern, Special Agent in Charge, Chicago Field Office, Drug Enforcement Agency, Shana L. Margolis, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, David B Neely, Associate Professor in Medicine-General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Pamela F. Rodriguez, President & CEO, Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities.
The Opioids interdisciplinary symposium was concluded with a key note address by Dick Durbin, US Senator for Illinois, who led a heartfelt personal conversation on ongoing local and federal efforts to address the ongoing opioids epidemic in Illinois and around the nation.
As it becomes increasingly clear that a comprehensive interdisciplinary approach is needed to understand and address the growing opiate dependance crisis, we believe greater success can be achieved by continuing to create spaces for disparate stakeholders to work and dialogue more closely.
We look forward to many more such events.
Organizers of the 2016 Interdisciplinary Symposium on Opioids