APhA-ASP Operation Substance Use Disorders
Operation Substance Use Disorders is brought to APhA Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) through a collaboration with Walmart, Inc. It is an educational program in which student pharmacists work in their communities to prevent misuse of prescription medication, break the stigma of substance use disorders (SUD), support patients in recovery, and advocate for the profession. By educating and providing resources to people of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds, student pharmacists will raise awareness, prevent harm from prescription medication misuse, and support patients who struggle with SUD. APhA-ASP is honored to partner with Walmart, Inc. on this educational program to expand the breadth and depth of this important initiative to the communities surrounding our nation’s schools and colleges of pharmacy.
We challenge every APhA-ASP Chapter to collaborate with pharmacists, educators, community outreach programs, local organizations, and legislators in your area to make a difference with Operation Substance Use Disorders. Visit the resources section below for tools and resources related to this program.
Operation Substance Use Disorders - Background
Prescription Medication Safety
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA), the fastest-growing drug problem in the United States is not cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamines. It is prescription medications. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 5,700 youth in 2014 reported using prescription pain relievers without a prescription for the first time. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the leading cause of unintentional injury death is unintentional poisoning, at 64,795 deaths in 2017. This includes drug overdoses.
Substance Use Disorders (SUD)
SAMHSA reported that in 2014, approximately 21.5 million people aged 12 or older had a SUD in the past year. SUD is highly-stigmatized and not only does this impact those 21.5 million people, but it weighs on society. By changing behaviors and interactions from discrimination, fear, neglect, to extending support, high-quality treatment, and equal opportunities, we can better support our patients.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, addiction is a treatable disorder. Research on the science of addiction and the treatment of substance use disorders has led to the development of research-based methods that help people to stop using drugs and resume productive lives, also known as being in recovery. Like other chronic diseases such as heart disease or asthma, treatment for drug addiction is usually not curable, however it can be managed successfully. Treatment enables people to counteract addiction's disruptive effects on their brain and behavior, and regain control of their lives.
As one of the most accessible health care professionals, pharmacists and student pharmacists can directly impact the lives of Americans through educating our communities about SUD. In addition, pharmacists have the same responsibility as prescribers to prevent misuse and abuse of prescription medications, and diversion. Advocacy to state and federal legislators, boards of pharmacy, and other stakeholders is necessary to further the profession's public policy goals such as allowing pharmacists to practice at the top of their licenses, increasing funding for SUD-related research to advance patient care, improving regulatory guidance around pro-actively preventing prescription opioid misuse, and easing access and affordability of naloxone.
Operation Substance Use Disorders - Goals of Program and Partnership
The goals of Operation Substance Use Disorders are to:
- Increase awareness among pharmacists, new practitioners, and student pharmacists about the opportunity to serve as educators and health information resources regarding prescription medication safety and substance use disorders.
- Increase awareness among community members about the potential dangers of prescription medication misuse and abuse, what substance use disorders are, and how to support recovery.
- Provide pharmacists, new practitioners, and student pharmacists with information and skills necessary to effectively implement community-based prescription medication safety programs, opioid disposal initiatives, and naloxone training events.
- Provide pharmacists, new practitioners, and student pharmacists with resources and tools to advocate for the development and implementation of a national prescription drug monitoring program and other initiatives related to furthering the pharmacist’s role in caring for patients with substance use disorders.
- Provide pharmacists, new practitioners, and student pharmacists with information necessary to decrease the stigma associated with substance use disorders and assist patients to better navigate the recovery process.
- Encourage student pharmacists to pursue residencies, fellowships, and careers in mental health and substance use disorders treatment and care.
- Promote the role of the pharmacist on the health care team.
- Promote the profession of pharmacy and its valuable role in the community and in the health care delivery system.
Operation Substance Use Disorders - Program Results
The launch of Operation Substance Use Disorders as an official APhA-ASP National Patient Care Project brings exciting new opportunities for APhA-ASP Chapters to make a difference in their local communities during the 2020-2021 academic year. Visit this page in fall of 2021 for program results.
One chapter from each of the eight APhA-ASP regions will be recognized during Midyear Regional Meetings. In addition, the eight regional winners, along with one national winner, and two national runners-up will be recognized during the APhA Annual Meeting & Exposition and in Student Pharmacist magazine.
Operation Substance Use Disorders - Resources
- Educational program supported by Walmart, Inc. Topics include: an overview of addiction and recovery, pain management best practices, bridging the gap between pain management and drug diversion, using brief interventions in a busy pharmacy setting, naloxone (role and use in communities), and opioid alternatives.
A free online portal from Walmart, Inc. designed to equip you with knowledge and skills to make healthy decisions for yourself and to support those you care about. Lessons available on understanding prescription opioids and safe use, supporting others, understanding prescription stimulants and safe use, and promoting mental wellness.
- Walmart's mission is to help people "live better," and the Walmart Opioid Stewardship Initiative exists to help fight the opioid crisis by supporting solutions related to stewardship, education and advocacy. Learn more through the program's website.
- The National Prescription Drug Take Back Day aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of medications.
- Addiction and recovery resources for campuses, communities and other patient populations.
Operation Substance Use Disorders - Award Report & Recognition
Recognition will be awarded to the top chapters nationally at the APhA Annual Meeting & Exposition. Chapters receive the following cash awards:
National Award Winning Chapter = $1,000
National 1st Runner-up = $750
National 2nd Runner-up = $500
Regional Award Winning Chapters - Regions 1-8 = $250
The top 3 chapters will receive an all-travel-expense paid trip to Salt Lake City, UT to present their chapter’s programming at the APhA Institute on Substance Use Disorders held annually in June.
To be considered for regional and national awards for APhA-ASP Operation Substance Use Disorders activities, chapters can complete an essay and submit a separate chronological list for the project events (e.g. Operation Substance Use Disorders Chronological List) within the APhA-ASP Chapter Achievement Report form. Guidelines and information on the submission process can be found within the APhA-ASP Chapter Achievement Report information.
Thank you to the Supporter!
Operation Substance Use Disorders is supported by Walmart, Inc.