Student Doctors of Pharmacy Take Stand Against Opioid Misuse, Showing "The Neuroscience Behind Drugs of Abuse" to 1,000 High School Students

The Neuroscience Behind Drugs of Abuse
Student Doctors of Pharmacy presented for 13 hours during all 6 periods at Rio Americano High School on Thursday, February 1st, 2018

After marijuana, prescription and over-the counter medications are the most commonly abused drugs among today’s high school seniors. In response to the current epidemic of opioid use and other drugs, student doctors from Touro University California, College of Pharmacy, set out to provide simple and scientific explanations of what these drugs do to the body. The program called “The Neuroscience Behind Drugs and Abuse” offers youths a pharmacological perspective that is different from statistical and criminal approaches on the issue.

Neuroscience of Drug Use
Pictured left to right: Chau Huynh, Muhamod Saied, Dr. Shane Desselle, Carolyn Farr, and Joseph Lee

“What has been successful is that pharmacy students are viewed as older and knowledgeable but not as parental or authority figures,” explains Dr. Desselle, professor and program creator. “We help attendees understand the basic pharmacology behind both prescription drugs and illicit drugs, thus helping the audience connect why certain prescription drugs can and are abused, because of their chemical relation to other drugs that are illicit.”

After presenting for all six periods to 1,000 students at Rio Americano High School in Sacramento, CA, the third year student doctors of pharmacy also shared their knowledge with the school's Parent Teacher Association.

Dr. Desselle won awards for his first implementation of the program while at Duquesne University, which served over 30,000 high school students across Southwestern Pennsylvania. He and his team are currently working on outreach with this program to expand to high schools throughout Northern California to do their part to stem the epidemic of opioid use.