UT Health San Antonio will host the San Antonio Substance Use Symposium on April 20 and 21. The free event will bring together leaders from the city of San Antonio, Bexar County, academic health and local health care systems, community-based organizations, health care providers and the public.
“The purpose of the substance use symposium is to increase awareness of evidence-based methods for safe management and treatment of substance use disorders. We also want to improve access to opioid abuse care in underserved populations,” explained Jennifer Potter, Ph.D., M.P.H., who is planning the symposium and is professor of psychiatry and associate dean for research in the Joe R. & Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine at UT Health San Antonio.
“Although opioid addiction is a major health care issue throughout the United States, one solution doesn’t work for all communities,” she said. “This symposium is a starting point for us to identify opioid use challenges in San Antonio and Bexar County, and to work collaboratively on solutions for our version of this public health crisis.”
The program on Friday, April 20 is open to everyone, including governmental officials, community and health care leaders, health care providers and the public. It will begin at 8 a.m. with welcoming remarks from Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff and State Rep. Ina Minjarez.
At 8:30 a.m., Dr. Potter and Abigail Moore, chief executive officer of the San Antonio Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, will discuss opioid use in our community.
A panel discussion about opioid use disorder and treatment will follow at 9 a.m., featuring Colleen Bridger, Ph.D., M.P.H., from the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, Angela White from Alpha Home, Clayton Sponhaltz, LCDC from Rise Recovery, Moore and Potter.
April 21’s agenda is limited to training physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants on treating patients with buprenorphine, a medication for opioid addiction.
“We are hopeful that many health care providers, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, substance use treatment providers, researchers, and community members will come to the symposium to collaborate with us and offer feedback,” said Dr. Potter, a nationally known researcher of opioid use and chronic pain management in the UT Health San Antonio Department of Psychiatry.
Dr. Potter served as the project director for a national clinical trial called the Prescription Opioid Addiction Treatment Study, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse’ Clinical Trials Network. This is the largest multisite clinical trial ever conducted to examine treatment of prescription opioid dependence in individuals with and without chronic pain. A three-year follow-up study is underway.
Dr. Potter also is a member of the Bexar County San Antonio Joint Opioid Task Force, which includes representatives from law enforcement, public health, treatment and the school district communities. The public-private collaboration is seeking to decrease the number of opioid deaths in Bexar County and develop effective strategies to address the opioid crisis.
Licensed chemical dependency counselors, licensed professional counselors, social workers, and family and marriage therapists can earn continuing education hours for attending the symposium through the San Antonio Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse. To receive credit, participants must sign in at registration and complete the conference evaluation.
Physicians can earn continuing medical education hours for attending the symposium through the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano School of Medicine Office of Continuing Medical Education.
To learn more about the conference, visit www.sasus.org.