Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Report of the AACP Special Committee on Substance Abuse and Pharmacy Education

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

Report of the AACP Special Committee on Substance Abuse and Pharmacy Education

Article excerpt

President-Elect Jeffrey N. Baldwin created the AACP Special Committee on Substance Abuse and Pharmacy Education as a special committee to serve during his term of office in 2009-2010. The Committee met in Alexandria, Virginia on October 4-5, 2009 and conducted the remainder of its business via electronic media.


The Committee was specifically charged to examine and recommend how pharmacy colleges and schools should prepare all student pharmacists to appropriately assist those who are addicted or affected by others' addiction, and help support addiction recovery with an emphasis on public safety. The Committee was also directed to include recommendations on core curricular content and delivery, both for student pharmacists and continuing education for pharmacists, and on prevention and assistance processes within our colleges and schools.


Substance abuse and addiction continues to be a significant public health problem in the United States. Data for the year 2008 indicate that 8 percent of the population aged 12 or greater reported current illicit drug use and 6.9 percent met the criteria for heavy alcohol use. (1) The incidence of such disorders in health professionals is believed to be higher than that of the general population; this may be related to the access that health professionals have to abusable and addictive substances. Health professionals in training, including student pharmacists are impacted as well.

Pharmacists are educated and trained to fulfill the societal role of being drug experts and to use this expertise in the care of patients, including the prevention and management of drug related problems. Given that substance abuse and addiction are obviously disorders that are related to the inappropriate use of drugs, pharmacists clearly have a responsibility to provide appropriate care for patients so afflicted. Pharmacy colleges and schools are the educational entities that bear the primary responsibility to prepare pharmacists for their roles as health professionals that provide patient care. Given the prevalence of drug misuse in our society, it is important for colleges and schools of pharmacy to address addiction and substance abuse as components of professional curricula as well as in the continuing education of pharmacists. Furthermore, colleges and schools of pharmacy also have a responsibility to provide assistance to members of their organizations (student pharmacists, graduate students, faculty, and other employees) that may develop addiction and other substance abuse disorders.

The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) has in the past been significantly engaged in addressing the issue of substance abuse and addiction, both within schools and colleges of pharmacy as well as the society at large. In 1988, the House of Delegates adopted a resolution that stated individual colleges and schools of pharmacy utilize the "Guidelines for the Development of Chemical Impairment Policies for Colleges of Pharmacy" that had previously been adopted by the AACP Board of Directors, and that "individual colleges and schools of pharmacy actively participate in programs as suggested by the guidelines." (2) The 1990-91 Academic Affairs Committee, in response to a charge presented by president John Biles, developed the following policy statement that was adopted by the House of Delegates: "Pharmaceutical education has the responsibility to prepare students to address the problems of substance abuse and chemical dependency in society." (3)

AACP's Special Interest Group (SIG) on Substance Abuse Education and Assistance has been very active in shaping academic pharmacy's response to these problems. The work of this SIG led to the publication of "Curricular Guidelines for Pharmacy Education: Substance Abuse and Addictive Disease." (4) In 1999, the work of this SIG resulted in the publication of AACP's "Guidelines for the Development of Psychoactive Substance Use Disorder Policies for Colleges of Pharmacy," which updated the aforementioned 1988 document. …

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