From the President's Desk

APA Div. 28 president's column

Spring to action. A call for dissemination and advocacy for substance use and psychopharmacology.

By David S. Festinger

David S. Festinger, PhDHappy spring, everyone. I want to begin my first column by expressing my sincere gratitude and pride for being elected the division's 48 th president. After last year's 50th anniversary and reviewing the long list of esteemed Div. 28 presidents, I was incredibly humbled and struck by what enormous shoes I am expected to fill. The most recent pair belongs to Stacey Sigmon. She was an outstanding president who led many innovative initiatives, inspired and motivated our Executive Committee and entire membership, and kept us financially strong through the charitable donations of a wide variety of sponsors. I must also congratulate Mollie Miller for organizing a highly successful 2016 convention in Denver. I also want to congratulate Micky Koffarnus for his stellar contributions as newsletter editor during his three-year term. Finally, I want to thank Kelly Dunn, for her outstanding role as division secretary.

Along with the dawning of spring, many Executive Committee positions have now changed hands. Mark Smith is our new president-elect; Micky Koffarnus is our division secretary; Kelly Dunn is our new convention chair; Erin McClure is our new newsletter editor; Dustin Stairs will continue as our membership chair for an additional three-year term; and Will Aklin as our new treasurer.

I would also like to congratulate this year's esteemed award winners including Dorothy Hatsukami, PhD, winner of MED Associates Brady-Schuster Award; James Mahoney, PhD, winner of our Young Psychopharmacologist Award; and Elizabeth Holly, PhD, winner of our Outstanding Dissertation Award. I hope that everyone can make it to this year's annual convention to hear their outstanding presentations.

Although this year's APA convention is still months away, it is never too early to start planning your attendance. This year our convention will be held in Washington, D.C. That's correct, right in our nation's capital. Div. 28 has a full schedule of timely and informative programming. In total, we will have 21 posters, 14 sessions (of which six are symposiums), five collaborative sessions, and a very novel data blitz spearheaded by Kelly Dunn in collaboration with Div. 50 that will highlight student and early career research.

The location of this year's convention is particularly significant given the many critical empirical, clinical and ethical issues facing our field and our division's focus on psychopharmacology and substance abuse. The opioid epidemic, support for research, health care funding, and criminal justice reform are just a few of the many critical topics on deck for major policy decisions. APA and divisions—such as ours in particular—have the great responsibility of ensuring that these decisions are informed by empirical evidence. As such, we must make our voices heard by disseminating our findings and advocating for research and treatment, not only through peer-reviewed publications and presentations at scientific conferences, but also by connecting with our city, state and national representatives.

This means contacting our school board representatives, commissioners, members of congress and senators to share our current research findings, describe what we are seeing in the field, and convey the devastating effects of drugs and alcohol that we witness and seek answers for on a daily basis. We should be bolstered by the significant progress that we have made over the past few decades, but not become complacent and forget how quickly and easily effective policies and positive reforms can be reversed. On a related note, the APA has signed on as an official partner of the upcoming March for Science, calling it “a demonstration of the importance of science for improving people's lives and benefiting society.” The march, which will take place on Saturday, April 22, in Washington, D.C., and in many other cities around the nation, will provide us with another avenue to advocate for the importance of empirical research.

The ubiquity of our division's mission places us in the forefront of efforts to improve public health and public safety. I am proud to be part of this prodigious division, congratulate all of you for its historical success, and challenge us all to continue to build upon our strong foundation and make an even greater impact on society.

Here's to a wonderful spring and a great new year. Let's all “spring” to action.