Quinn: One session I attended was called “The Science of Addiction.” I was slightly apprehensive in the beginning because there wasn’t much diversity in the speakers. The speech discussed the stigma surrounding alcoholism and addictions to drugs. In particular, the speakers discussed governmental policies on rehabilitation of addicts. An example one speaker used was Amy Winehouse. The singer was placed in a rehabilitation program that enforced an abstinence based program. When she relapsed, she drank an amount of alcohol that her body previously could have handled, but because her tolerance was significantly lowered, she overdosed and died. The speaker used this example to further his point that abstinence based rehabilitation programs aren’t always effective. After the session I asked the speaker who specializes in addiction in adolescence if cannabis is really a gateway drug. His answer surprised me. He said that because cannabis is illegal in most places where it’s used, people buying it are also offered highly addictive drugs such as cocaine and heroine. There are not indications that something within the chemical makeup of cannabis makes it a gateway drug. I found this extremely interesting because of the fact that I have been taught that cannabis is a gateway drug that will ruin your life in much of my education on drugs.
Ethan: I had a fantastic time at the World Health Summit. In addition to learning more about my passions and meeting incredible people who are at the top of their fields, I was able to expand my horizons and learn about topics I had no prior knowledge in. When looking at the Sunday topics, I saw one on AIDS I was moderately interested in, but I made the spot decision to go to one about Neglected Tropical Diseases, despite not knowing anything about it. As it turns out, these diseases really are neglected, because I had never heard of the tropical diseases that affect over a billion people.
Not only did I learn a ton about these diseases, but I had the opportunity to talk with one of the speakers, and we found that we had opportunities for collaboration on an app idea I had been thinking about. I came to the conference hoping for more suggestions about this app, which would be a database and social network for global workers to share ideas and collaborate, and I was not disappointed. Not only did I meet people who could help, but I met people who gave me constructive criticism and advice on how to make the app inclusive of those who don’t have smartphones. Now, I feel much more confident about my abilities to develop this app and I know there are people who I can count on to help me. Hopefully, I can develop this app and have success with it as I look to take more action in the field of global health and development.