Having spent much of our lives in the depths of addiction, we are quite used to getting a lecture or two. So when we were approached by University of Huddersfield to actually deliver one, panic set in. After all, what do we know about addiction? I guessed being “experts by experience” we might have enough knowledge to fill a couple of hours speaking at the award winning University so agreed to drag along a few ‘recoverees’. Here is an account of the day, from Nicola…
Heath, Tim, Dave and Richard from the Basement Recovery Project were kind enough to devote an afternoon of their time to come to the University of Huddersfield on a wet February day to share their experiences of substance misuse to a group of around 80 third year undergraduate Pharmacy students.
The session covered many issues including the social aspects of drug and alcohol use, the difficulty in recognising there could be a problem and the input from healthcare professionals that may be useful during these times. The talk also focussed on the Basement Projects holistic approach to recovery from addiction. The speakers were both informative and very moving to listen to through their detailed candid presentations. The student feedback was excellent and many stayed behind for over an hour after the allocated lecture slot had finished to listen to all the presenters, ask questions and gain insight into the “human” part of substance misuse. Previous teaching around this subject focuses on the medicines used for substance misuse, public health initiatives and the legalities of controlled drug prescriptions and this will be the first time many of them have come across someone who has experienced problems with substance misuse.
Many students chose this lecture session as the basis for a “reflective document” which they have to submit for their end of year assessed coursework and it was clear reading these how much the experience had influenced their thoughts and feelings. They covered topics such as the aim of a treatment programme for substance misusers, showing that it was not only about abstinence from illicit drug use but it involved many more issues that affected the lives of substance misusers, something they probably wouldn’t have considered before the talk form the team at the Basement Project. They also discussed tolerance to drugs and how the body adapted to regular doses of a substance so that a greater intake is needed to produce the original effect.
Student comments included:
“I would like to say how amazing I found the guest speakers today, listening to their stories at one point even brought tears to my eyes”
“That lecture has had the most influence on my thinking as a pharmacist”
“The best lecture I’ve had in my time here”
“I wish we had more sessions like that, it was great hearing the way things affected them on a day to day level. These are the things we don’t know about”
From a lecturers point of view I found the talk engaging, honest and open and it made me reflect on my practice as a pharmacist which can only be a good thing! Heath was a pleasure to work with and the team at the Basement project should feel pleased they have such a great team who are able to go out and promote the service. I’m grateful for the time they gave up and for giving the students the opportunity to see something from a different perspective. Their openness and honesty was refreshing and this approach was great for the students.
Nicola Shaw MRPharmS MPharm(hons) DipClinPharm FHEA
Division of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Science, University of Huddersfield
Thanks to all who made us feel welcome and for the great Q&A session afterwards.