By Dr Nathan Critchlow (University of Stirling)

The second session of the PhD Symposium in room two focused on two important branches of addiction studies: alcohol consumption and opioids.


Nurse Prescribers

The session began with a presentation from Martha Whitfield, from Queen’s University, Canada. Martha presented a protocol for a scoping review which will map the provision of Medication Treatment for Opioid Disorder by nurse practitioners in outpatient settings. This is an important and timely topic given increasing recognition of the role that nurse practitioners play in effective delivery of addictions treatment, both in Canada and elsewhere. Martha’s research is on-going, but we look forward the recommendations for policy and practice that will emerge from the studies.


The D3 receptor and alcohol dependence 

The second presentation, delivered by Rayyan Zafar from Imperial College London, concerned the effects of DRD3 blockade on alcohol dependence.  Rayyan gave a wonderfully detailed, yet very accessible and engaging, presentation of how he is using both Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and Function Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to investigate the effects of D3 antagonism in alcohol dependence. This research is also still on-going, but we look forward to the insight Rayyan’s findings will have for understanding the neurobiology of addiction!


Pregabalin in toxicology reports

The final presenter was Ena Lynn, who joined us from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland to discuss factors associated with pregabalin positive poisoning deaths. Ena outlined that pregabalin comes from the drug class gabapentinoids, which are typically used to treat neuropathic pain, anticonvulsants, and generalised anxiety disorder, but there are potential side effects and/or harms. Enda’s data, from Ireland’s National Drug-Related Death Index (2013-2016), reported that pregabalin was present on 16% of toxicology reports from approximately 1,500 poisoning deaths. Factors associated with pregabalin-positive poisoning deaths included being female, opioid use, being in receipt of treatment for drug use, and more recent year of death. Enda’s presentation concluded with recommendations, including enhanced training to prescribers and treatment provides on the risk associated with pregabalin.



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