Introducing Case Western Reserve University SSDP

Written by Rachel Susany ‘21 and Micaela Swim ‘21, Case Western Reserve University SSDP Chapter Leaders

How did you hear about SSDP?
M: Rachel

R: I heard about SSDP while I was scrolling through Linkedin. I messaged a woman I found working as in-house counsel for a company that does psychedelic research and asked her for advice and she told me to get involved with SSDP.

Why did you want to get involved/what made you decide to start a chapter?
M: I’ve seen the impact the war on drugs has had on family and friends and think it’s time for a change. People still have many misconceptions about drugs and drug treatments. I also am interested in working with human trafficking survivors, many of whom have addictions and trauma based dependencies.

R: I wanted to start a chapter to educate those around me. I wanted to combat the negative stigma the war on drugs has left around many substances, particularly ones with potential health benefits. I also am deeply troubled by the effects of the opioid epidemic, specifically the rising overdose rates in the Cleveland and Youngstown area.  

What has the reception been like on campus? From students, teachers, administration, etc. 
M: Many of our fellow students have been excited to join us and we were able to find a faculty advisor pretty quickly.

R: Students are very receptive and we have had interest from outside the law school community. Our faculty advisor is extremely supportive and started sending us news articles that relate to SSDP. 

What are some of the things you have planned or want to plan for next semester?
M & R: We would like to schedule a training event for administering Narcan. We have also been in touch through my work with judges and prosecutors who deal with Ohio drug courts to come speak.

What is the most challenging part of your experience starting/running the chapter so far? 
M: Since it’s new we will have to navigate the system and see how much the school is willing to participate.

R: It’s a little scary to come out all together and try to bring drug issues to light. We do not want people to think we are advocating for drug use. All together Mic and I are involved in various clubs and are very busy. 

What is the most rewarding part
M: Starting a new chapter is very exciting because we get to make it how we want and choose what to focus on.

R:  The most rewarding part for me is honestly just talking about SSDP. I love hearing people’s reactions change and they always comment on how passionate I am. 

What are you most excited about for your chapter/school/state/region right now? 
M: I’m excited to start the conversation about drug policies at our school and the general drug laws since we are a law school.

R: I am very excited for the Narcan Training. I am also excited about the work Ohio State Rep. Tim Ryan is doing with Dan Crenshaw (TX) regarding MDMA therapy for veterans. 

What is your vision for your SSDP? Where do you see your chapter in a year? in 4 or 5 years?
M: I would like to be able to incorporate other schools at Case like the social work and medical schools for a more well rounded group of individuals who have different experiences and insights into what new ways we can tackle the issues we face.

R: I really hope the chapter is flourishing in 4-5 years. I would love to pass it down to someone who is as passionate as we are.