As the opioid addiction epidemic continues to make headlines and take thousands of lives across the nation, a College of Pharmacy student has been doing what she can to help combat this public health threat in her hometown of Laconia, N.H.
Anne Dionne, a doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) student, devoted her summer to helping a local anti-substance abuse coalition and working alongside Laconia police officer Eric Adams. He is New England’s — and possibly the nation’s — only Prevention, Enforcement and Treatment Officer. Adams was profiled in an article in The New York Times Magazine in July.
Dionne’s interest in the topic coalesced after taking URI Honors Program courses on the opioid abuse epidemic, inequality in America, and public health. As part of a Service Learning experience, she volunteered with Adams every week while working at a local hospital and volunteering at a recovery center as well as with a nonprofit anti-addiction coalition.
“I now understand better why people start abusing drugs and some of the barriers to recovery,” she said, noting lack of insurance, waiting lists for recovery facilities, and lack of transportation as obstacles.
With Adams, Dionne has been able to see addiction up close and from diverse perspectives: She sat down with inmates at the county jail to discuss their struggles with addiction and need for recovery services; called recovering addicts to check on their progress; and accompanied Adams on his rounds throughout Laconia.
“I feel Anne will utilize her PharmD degree to the best of her abilities, having a better understanding of how powerful prescription medication can be. Working with providers to help give the best care possible is vital to our society,” said Adams, noting the importance of giving future health professionals like Dionne real-world learning opportunities.