UK Helps Organize, Host Kremers Seminar on Exploring Opioids, Addiction

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 24, 2021) — It's a question that is critical to families and communities across the Commonwealth — how do we tackle the opioid epidemic?

The University of Kentucky is helping to organize and host the second annual Edward Kremers Seminar in the History of Pharmacy & Drugs in hopes of continuing the conversation surrounding addiction and recovery.

The 2021 “Kreminar” will feature virtual seminars about the history and contemporary status of opiates, opioids and addiction.

“The Cooperative for the Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS) is pleased to co-sponsor these events because it is important to understand that drug use and opioid addiction have both a global and a local history,” Karen Petrone, director of CHSS, said. “Understanding this history helps scholars and practitioners to imagine future solutions to social and health problems.”

“The opioid crisis is a pressing local concern, and substance use is one of our university's research priorities,” Claire Clark, associate professor of behavioral science in the College of Medicine, added. “The ‘Kreminar’ provides an opportunity for us to think about this issue globally, as well as locally and to consider possible future solutions in historical context.”

The Zoom presentations will take place on Thursdays throughout May and June from 1 p.m.-2:30 p.m., and participants are required to preregister for each presentation.

Links for registration and descriptions of the discussions are listed below:

May 27, Daniel Skinner in conversation with Kerri Mongenel: “The Humanity of Addiction: What We Can Learn from Families, Educators and Practitioners.”

Host: Claire Clark, University of Kentucky Moderator: Jonathan S. Jones, Penn State University

Mongenel, a children services caseworker, and Skinner, a health policy researcher, offer their perspectives on the changing dynamics of addiction in Ohio. The state’s opioid crisis is a far-reaching sociological phenomenon with consequences for virtually every social group and institution, including families, schools, places of employment and faith, and beyond. Throughout this conversation, Mongenel will reflect on her work with children and their families. Skinner, co-editor of "Not Far From Me: Stories of Opioids and Ohio" (Ohio State University Press, 2019), will discuss his work as a researcher and medical educator.

Click here to register for Mongenel and Skinner’s presentation.

June 3, Nancy Campbell and David Herzberg: “Unexpected Histories of Opioids and Overdose.”

Hosts: Claire Clark, University of Kentucky and Lucas Richert, University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Pharmacy & American Institute of the History of Pharmacy Moderator: Jonathan S. Jones, Penn State University

Campbell, the author of "OD: Naloxone and the Politics of Overdose" (MIT Press, 2020), and Herzberg, author of "White Market Drugs: Big Pharma and the Hidden History of Addiction in America" (University of Chicago Press, 2020), argue that we can’t understand prohibition markets unless we also understand the history of (much larger) pharmaceutical markets. Why did certain pharmaceutical opioids, and opioid antagonists, come to matter the way they did, when they did — particularly during the social and political ferment of the early 21st century’s “opioid crisis”?  Together, they will discuss how incorporating the story of pharmaceuticals changes our understanding of the history of opioids, addiction and overdose.

Click here to register for Campbell and Hezberg’s presentation.

June 10, James Bradford: “Poppy Politics: Drugs in Afghanistan, Past and Present.”

Hosts: Claire Clark, University of Kentucky and Horace Bartilow, University of Kentucky Moderator: Jonathan S. Jones, Penn State University

Bradford will demonstrate that drugs — especially opium — were critical components in the formation and failure of the Afghan state. He will discuss how the country moved from licit supply of the global opium trade to one of the major suppliers of illicit hashish and opium. "Poppies, Politics, and Power: Afghanistan and the Global History of Drugs and Diplomacy" (Cornell University Press, 2019) breaks the conventional modes of national histories that fail to fully encapsulate the global nature of the drug trade by explaining how Afghanistan’s emergence as a major supplier of illicit drugs is tied to broader changes to the global drug market and international drug control. Drawing from his book, Bradford’s talk will explore the global history of opium within the borders of Afghanistan, how the drug trade is tied to the formation of the Afghan state and the future implications of drug production, trade and use in Afghanistan and globally.

Click here to register for Bradford’s presentation.

June 17, Mala Szalavitz: "Undoing Drugs: Harm Reduction, Opioids and the Future of Addiction."

Host: Caroline Acker, Carnegie Mellon University

This Q&A about Szalavitz’s forthcoming book, "Undoing Drugs: The Untold Story of Harm Reduction and the Future of Addiction" (Hachette Books, 2021), will explore the history of harm reduction and what it suggests about dealing with the current overdose crisis. It will examine the false narrative that now drives opioid policy and how harm reduction offers both a more accurate and a more effective way to manage drug issues.

Click here to register for Szalavitz’s presentation.

Hosts and sponsors of the summer 2021 “Kreminar” are:

To learn more, visit the American Institute of the History of Pharmacy or the Alcohol and Drugs History Society.