On December 1st 2015, hundreds of researchers, clinicians, public health practitioners, policymakers, students, and members of the media gathered together for a day of scientific learning, sharing and exploration on the subject of prescription pain medication overdose related injury and death. There were over two-dozen presentations relating to opioid overdose, including examination of epidemiology and scope of the problem, the health care system’s response and possible prevention techniques. Presentations varied in responding at the health system level, the policy level, and the community level. Dr. Boyd from the University of Michigan’s School of Nursing took the problem from a lifespan approach and focused on adolescent opioid nonmedical use and medical misuse, and differentiating between sensation-seeking and self-treating. There was also a multi-disciplinary discussion on the use of Naloxone to save the lives of those who overdose on prescription pain medications. Suggestions were made by many esteemed researchers on ways opioid misuse could be prevented, from better prescription practices to increased surveillance. This conference gave scientists from across the country and from many disciplines the chance to come together and share information on this growing public health crisis, as well as discover the gaps in the research that still need to be filled.
At Pathways4Youth we are excited to see this topic come into the forefront of scientific research and discussion. In particular, focus on adolescent opioid use is very relevant to our continuing research on adolescent development, and the risk behaviors and environments that can affect it. This Opioid Overdose Summit was a crucial step in the direction of understanding substance use better, and using this knowledge to focus on prevention.
-Corinne Hauck and Kathryn Abramoski