Written By: Anoopa Poovathodi, Second-Year Student Pharmacist
Recently, I volunteered to assist with an event organized by Generation Rx — a branch of the American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) chapter at the School of Pharmacy. The mission of Generation Rx is to promote safe medication use among members of the local community. To help fulfill this mission, student pharmacists who volunteer with this group visit high schools each semester to deliver presentations about marijuana and opioid use. Last semester, presentations were held on Nov. 30 at Gaithersburg High School.
Tackling a Hot-Button Issue
I offered to volunteer for this event given the relevance of the topic to the broader opioid abuse epidemic that is currently rattling nearly every state across the U.S. It is important for teenagers to be aware of the epidemic, because research has shown that the younger students are when they first become aware of the problem, the more vigilant they will be about taking steps to prevent drug and opioid abuse in their own lives. Our presentations provide students with important scientific data, which in turn, can help them understand the serious consequences associated with drug and opioid use.
Our group delivered multiple presentations to students throughout the day. The presentations began at the start of the school day and ended after students’ last class. Pharmacy students from across the School volunteered to assist third-year student pharmacist Larissa Nguy and second-year student pharmacist Michael Ho, co-chairs for Generation Rx at the Universities of Shady Grove, with presenting the talks. Each presentation lasted about 40 minutes and was followed by a question and answer session.
Having the Important Conversations
It was great to see the students become actively engaged during the presentations, sharing their knowledge and asking questions. Although they appeared to know a lot about the current opioid abuse epidemic, it had not necessarily “hit home” enough to make them think about the seriousness of the problem. In fact, many students didn’t think that using marijuana or opioids could lead to problems with addiction. They were also unaware of the health problems that could occur as a result of abusing these substances. It was truly an eye-opening experience.
At the end of each presentation, we could see the changes in the attitudes of many students. It was a very gratifying experience to have this opportunity to interact with young, active minds and to help plant some new ideas within them that will hopefully help them lead healthy lives. Knowing that our words can make a lifelong impact on these students since we are presenting them with the scientific facts from reliable sources feels great.
Getting Involved with a Good Cause
Generation Rx is always looking for new volunteers for this event. As student pharmacists, it is our responsibility to make our communities, and especially our young people, aware of the substance abuse problem that is looming in our area. As an APhA-ASP member, I urge other student pharmacists to take part in this event and others like it. Let us work together to make a positive impact in our community by educating future generations about this nationwide epidemic.