Change is the ultimate law of life. Those that do not change and adapt, do not survive. In the life of scientific meetings, this means constantly improving the organisation of the events and tailoring them to the changing needs of the conference delegates. This year, the annual meeting of the College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD) introduced several improvements and more are on the way in next years.
Bye Bye Tote Bags
Many of us were used to the traditional design of the CPDD tote bags. Each year had a different colour. For years when conference visited a warm region, such as Phoenix, AR, the tote bag included a special layer for keeping the contents cool. The non-bag policy brought the desired recognition of sustainability and (un-)expected diversity among the conference bags – everyone was different.
Bye Bye Printed Programs
For years, the conference book was a comprehensive bible for the conference week. Everybody read it and most followed it. Although the College printed a limited number of copies, this year, the e-programs drained participants smartphones’ batteries. What more, they offered note-taking and photograph uploading that many appreciated. Welcome to the digital age.
Since the early days, the senior delegates offered mentorship to junior delegates. Mostly informal. Following the new trends adopted at other conferences, such as AHSR
, the CPDD sent out emails to all Members in Training (MIT), offering to match them with a potential mentor (mentor bios included). If both parties agreed, the match-maker introduced them via email. I have learned a lot from my mentor. Especially that the decision makers may not read addiction journals, also that the team identity strengthens sense of ownership among team members and that the road to the research success can be long and winding. Let’s hope that the beneficial mentoring program continues in future.
Hello Shorter Conference
With the increasing demands on scientists’ workloads, there is a chance that the upcoming conferences will be shorter.
See also my previous blog posts about CPDD from the previous years:
2015: Getting the most out of the Conference of the College on Problems of Drugs Dependence #CPDD2015
2014: 76th Annual Conference of College on Problems of Drug Dependence: Decide to be fearless& fabulous
2013: My itinerary for the Conference – College on Problems of Drug Dependence, San Diego, June 15-20
April 4: Methadone is a medication used in treatment of people with dependence from heroin or other opioids. Many people who take it drink too much alcohol. We don’t know whether it’s because or in spite of taking this medication. We wanted to know the impact of enrolment in methadone treatment on the onset of heavy drinking among people who use heroin.
Our approach: We analysed information from thousands of interviews from long-term, community-based studies of people who inject drugs in Vancouver, Canada, between December 1, 2005 and May 31, 2014.
What have we found: In total, 357 people who use heroin were included in this study. Of these, 58% enrolled in methadone at some point between 2005-2014, and 32% reported starting to drink heavily. Those who started the treatment said they drank less compared to those who did not start it. It didn’t even make them start drinking faster than those who did not start taking methadone. People who started drinking heavily when they enrolled in methadone were younger than those who did not start drinking heavily. They also used more cannabis.
What does this mean: It is clear that many people in the methadone treatment have problems with alcohol. It seems that they do not drink because they take this medication which may even appear to decrease the initiation of heavy drinking. Our findings suggest younger age and cannabis use may predict heavy drinking. These findings could help inform on-going discussions about the effects of opioid agonist therapy on alcohol consumption among people who use heroin.
This blog is based on article was Accepted for publication in the European Addiction Research Journal on January 31, 2016. The full title of the article is: The Impact of Enrolment in Methadone Maintenance Therapy on Initiation of Heavy Drinking among People who Use Heroin. The authors of the article are following:
Can junior doctors learn to spray a life-saving medication into noses of people who overdosed on opioids? A new study from Ireland attempted to answer the question.
Overdose is the most common cause of fatalities among opioid users. Naloxone is a life-saving medication for reversing opioid overdose. In Ireland, it is currently available to ambulance and emergency care services, but General Practitioners (GP) are in regular contact with opioid users and their families. This positions them to provide naloxone themselves or to instruct patients how to use it. The new Clinical Practice Guidelines of the Pre-hospital Emergency Care Council of Ireland allows trained bystanders to administer intranasal naloxone.
We describe the development and process evaluation of an educational intervention, designed to help GP trainees identify and manage opioid overdose with intranasal naloxone.
Participants (N = 23) from one postgraduate training scheme in Ireland participated in a one-hour training session. The repeated-measures design, using the validated Opioid Overdose Knowledge (OOKS) and Attitudes (OOAS) Scales, examined changes immediately after training. Acceptability and satisfaction with training were measured with a self-administered questionnaire.
Knowledge of the risks of overdose and appropriate actions to be taken increased significantly post-training [OOKS mean difference, 3.52 (standard deviation 4.45); P < 0.001]; attitudes improved too [OOAS mean difference, 11.13 (SD 6.38); P < 0.001]. The most and least useful delivery methods were simulation and video, respectively.
Appropriate training is a key requirement for the distribution of naloxone through general practice. In future studies, the knowledge from this pilot will be used to inform a train-the-trainer model, whereby healthcare professionals and other front-line service providers will be trained to instruct opioid users and their families in overdose prevention and naloxone use.
BMC Medical Education 2015, 15:206 doi:10.1186/s12909-015-0487-y
Abundance of data, army of eager support staff, in-house statisticians and hi-tech infrastructure – what else could an addiction researcher dream of? The Urban Health Program at the British Columbia Centre of Excellence in HIV/AIDS offers endless opportunities for investigators. My first week in this paradise was full of awe, new learning and new people.
Starting on Tuesday, October 21st, Carmen Rock, the Project Coordinator, gave me an orientation to the Urban Health Research Initiative (UHRI), tour of office, and let me sign the confidentiality agreement. UHRI is located on the top, 6th, floor of the St Paul’s hospital, which was recently renovated to meet the needs of researchers. As we walked down the hallway, Carmen stopped for a moment and we could “hear” the data buzzing in the ether.
Chanson Brumme, Data Analyst, gave me a tour of the laboratory. More precisely, tour of laboratories. Although lab research isn’t my specialty, I soon realised the importance and extent of the blood analyses that went on around us. Robots and laboratory assistants were lifting, extracting, ejecting and processing samples taken from the research participants.
|photo credit: uhri.cfenet.ubc.ca
Mint Ti, Research Associate, sat down and went through a UHRI 101 tutorial with me. This introductory set of slides is available to all staff and faculty through the local intranet. Having seen the slides in advance, I was able to ask her more focused questions, such as the process of research product development and data requests to statisticians.
My last meetings of the day were with Drs. Evan Wood, Director, and Michaela Montaner, Special Projects Coordinator. Michaela’s work focuses on knowledge translation, including the Addiction Medicine education, which will be the focus of my fellowship. With Dr Wood, we were able to sketch out and quickly dip into the endless opportunities which the centre offers for investigators.
Continuing on Wednesday, October 22nd, Cody Callon, Research Coordinator, told us about the At-Risk Youth Study (ARYS), and its office systems; Amy, a Master’s student, joined us. Together, we travelled to the VIDUS (Vancouver Injection Drug Users Study) office. Elaine Fernandes, Clinical Trials Research Coordinator and Steve Kain, Nurse Coordinator, briefed us on the history of the study and new studiesthat take place in the building.
Ethnographic Tour with Ryan McNeil, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, finished my orientation on Tuesday, October 28th. Downtown Eastside (DTES) is a well-known deprived area. We walked by and talked about the key agencies and objects of the area: the Vancouver Drug Users Union (VANDU), Insite supervised injecting room and many single-room occupancy hotels SRO’s. Ryan’s radiated excitement as he described the socio-cultural phenomena happening in the area which give an ethnographer a chance to study them in vivo. Gentrification of the area is a problem for many neighbourhood citizens. The policy of the Canadian conservative government poses serious challenges for the injecting room. The authorities try to push the scene out of downtown, for example by relocating the bottle depo site. The scientists are eager to “see what happens” next.