The training informed how each career discipline collaborated on the opioid crisis.


The second annual Interpro Series, “Opioid Crisis: An Interprofessional Response,” was held at Azusa Pacific on Oct. 4, hosted by the School of Behavioral and Applied Sciences. It included two keynote speakers, group table discussions and an expert panel discussion.

Robert Welsh, dean of the School of Behavioral and Applied Sciences, introduced the event saying, “This is an opportunity to bring the best of your discipline and learn the best of others so that you have a very expansive understanding of how different disciplines look at social problems.” 

The objectives for the event included informing the participants of the history and current status of the national opioid crisis. The participants also articulated the role and duties of their profession to an interprofessional team. 

The participants worked collaboratively with a team of students from allied professions to better understand the role and responsibilities of each discipline and how they can best work as an integrated team for better patient outcomes.

“Today’s topic of the opioid epidemic is far too complex for any single discipline to handle,” Welsh said.

The event included disciplines such as social work, physical therapy, athletic training, marriage and family therapy, clinical psychology, child life and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners.

One of the keynote speakers, Michael A. Sequeira, the director of quality for Risk Vituity Medical Group, spoke on the difficulty of whether or not to prescribe a patient opioids when they are in pain. 

“How can you, as a good caregiver, refuse that when a patient is sobbing in front of you?” Sequeira asked

The second keynote speaker, Guy Gomez, an associate marriage and family therapist and division outreach coordinator for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), began by saying that he used to not like drug users. 

“When I was a police officer, I thought that [drug use] begins with a choice, and it ends with a choice,” said Gomez. “It doesn’t. Addiction doesn’t care who you are — some are not able to make a choice.” 

Periodically through the training, each table was given a time to reflect on the information they were receiving. One of those times included deliberating over a sample case summary in which each person gave an analysis based on their discipline. 

Margarita Arvizu, a nurse practitioner, focused on ways the disciplines complemented each other. 

“This is why we all work together,” Arvizu said. “This is where all of us play a huge part in helping heal people.” 

Gomez outlined the community outreach goals for the DEA, which included increasing drug epidemic education, empowering and educating the effects of opioid drug addiction and creating a change in attitude and perception communities may have surrounding the rise in prescription opioid addiction.

Gomez stressed the importance of including other disciplines like social work and clinical psychology in the discussion. 

“Addiction is primarily relating to mental pain — to trauma the physical pain feels stemming from a psychological trauma,” Gomez said. 

Sequeira described three strategies to help eliminate the opioid crisis: limit the supply, prevent complications and give treatment. 

The “prevent complications” stage included measures such as providing shooting galleries where those affected by opioid drug disorder can use clean needles and be supervised to avoid an overdose. 

“It is not only providing clean needles,” said Rocio Kang, a masters student in social work, in her table discussion. “They also have support groups there. Even though it seems like they’re enabling more drug use, they’re actually enabling those coming in to stay alive for another year so they have more opportunities to seek support.

The training also worked to destigmatize the way addiction is usually thought of. 

“Drug reps use the claim that opioids aren’t addictive, that it’s people with addictive personalities that get addicted,” said Sequeira. 

Sequeira acknowledged his bias, but gave his thoughts on drug companies and their mindset. 

“[The drug companies] don’t think of the patient first, they think of the product,” said Sequeira.

Gomez closed with a powerful statistic — 80 percent of heroin users in America start with an opioid. Events and trainings like these that bring the necessary awareness to those going in a career field involved with drug use.