I am Guadalupe Drew Torres, class president of STCC. My goal is to become a Nurse. I participated in the drug talk about Drug addiction and the recovery process presented by a very inspiring Dr. Elizabeth A. Evans. She is a professor at UMASS, Department of Health Sciences and was recently appointed to serve in the Massachusetts Health Council. I was very fascinated and inspired with her powerful PowerPoint and all the amazing things she shared about overcoming addiction. She mentioned that she moved to MA because this is where her expertise, knowledge and skills are required. It is tragic to note that over 93,000 plus people have died from drug abuse during the first year of the COVID pandemic, which is a 30% increase from the prior year! Hence we all need to be aware of the dangers and say NO to addictive drug abuse.
The part that stood out to me the most was when she talked about prisons and helping the inmates overcome drug addictions. She said that sometimes inmates going into prison and having to stop drugs permanently might worsen their addiction and inmates once released from prison have a high chance of going back to that drug within two weeks of being free.
I was moved by this presentation since my loving mother went in and out of jail her whole life for drug addiction until she was taken away for good. We need to address this widespread danger which is affecting our community and the world. Now Dr. Evans’ research team is trying to incorporate new ways to help the inmates overcome addiction while incarcerated, it is so fascinating to me. I think this will be a huge success for our future in drug addictions and helping more people come clean and be strong enough to stay clean once released from prison.
I am impressed with her service for equity in the under-served population of our correction facilities to help drug abuse inmates to recover from addiction. She states that “Everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be as healthy as possible. Requires removing obstacles to health.” She also shared the Public Health Conceptual Map which is an “ecological systems” approach that considers the health of populations as shaped by a wide array of social and physiological factors, at multiple levels, over the life course. She also explained the pharmacological treatment to support recovery from Opioid Use Disorder that includes opioid agonist therapy or antagonist therapy.
An agonist is a drug that activates certain receptors in the brain. Full agonist opioids activate the opioid receptors in the brain resulting in the full opioid effect. Examples of full agonists are heroin, oxycodone, methadone, hydrocodone, morphine, opium and others. Partial agonist opioids activate the opioid receptors in the brain, but to a much lesser degree than a full agonist. Buprenorphine is an example of a partial agonist. An antagonist is a drug that blocks opioids by attaching to the opioid receptors without activating them. Antagonists cause no opioid effect and block full agonist opioids. Examples are naltrexone and naloxone. Current medication examples include: Methadone and Buprenorphine. These medications are Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved for opioid use disorder and have shown effectiveness in reducing opioid use and harmful opioid related behaviors when used as part of a comprehensive treatment program.
There were over 130+ students from Central high school and the Conservatory of the Arts, students from STCC and UMASS participated in this event. I am proud to convey that this guest talk was hosted by our own Anatomy and Physiology class and we all helped with the organization and execution of this event. We were all so excited. We served pizza to over 250 people and had the school mascot Ram in attendance passing out swag bags, garlands and candy to all the students. The anticipation and excitement was contagious and several students started dancing in the dining hall. Overall the outcome of this drug talk was a success. We all walked away with a great understanding of how drug use, abuse and addiction adversely affect the brain and the human body. However this addiction is treatable and there is a great future for people. We need a sustainable and innovative approach to handle this pandemic with our current pandemic.I am so happy I was a part of this talk and want to give thanks to both professors for showing up and showing out it was a life changing talk. I also thank our Biology department and Dr. Randhir for providing this academic experience. I am looking forward to other guest talks from experts in the future.