Written by Joanna Vamvakopoulou – Drug Science Student Society Network
I have been volunteering for the student drug science sector since 2019, during the 3rd year of my degree, helping organise events and talks regarding the application of mind-altering substances in the treatment of psychiatric disorders and drug policies.
I first learnt about Drug Science by attending Prof Nutt’s talk on the clinical potential of psychedelics at the University of Bristol. This talk played a vital role in my decision to pursue a career in neuropsychopharmacology research. Drug Science provided me with an abundance of resources at the time, allowing me to get a better understanding of the field and its political context. The University of Bristol, at this time, did not have a Drug Science student society, like many UK universities have now, so being involved in the Drug Science student community allowed me to meet like-minded individuals who were as passionate as I was about the world of drugs and their potential in treatment.
It was soon after my initial involvement with Drug Science that I attended one of their talks on Drugs and the Law, which made me realise the importance of drug policies and how they can impact the conduction of research on mind-altering substances. Ever since, I have been using Drug Science resources to further my knowledge on several topics around mind-altering substances, ranging from their pharmacology, their medicinal use, harm reduction, and drug policies.
When I first entered the world of neuropharmacology, my knowledge and network in the field were limited. Drug Science provided me with a community that made me feel seen and heard and that offered me the space to share my thoughts and ideas without judgement. I did not feel alone embarking on my journey in drug research, which for many is deemed controversial. Drug Science has educated me as an individual but has also inspired me to educate others! Through countless hours of collaborations and preparation of events, talks, and conferences over the past 4 years, I have learnt the importance of educating the people around me with unbiased information about the world of drugs in all of its aspects.
In a few months’ time, I will start my PhD in collaboration with Drug Science to develop and deliver teaching materials to schools about mind-altering substances and their therapeutic potential, with the aspiration to educate and inspire young people and to bring into the world a new generation of open-minded individuals who will not discriminate. I strive to build a better world with drug policies that serve everyone and do not marginalise anyone.