Introducing the University of Denver SSDP Ambassador

Introducing the University of Denver SSDP Ambassador

We are excited to announce that we have a new Ambassador based out of the University of Denver, Georgia Horne ‘21! We met with Georgia to find out more about what brought them to the network and what they’re excited about. 

1. Tell us a bit about yourself (anything that you’d like to share really)

I am currently pursuing my Master’s degree in social work at the University of Denver, but I am originally from a small Appalachian town in rural, southwest Virginia, not far from the epicenter of the opioid crisis. So, I grew up very aware of the impact that legal drugs, in this case pharmaceuticals, can have on at-risk and vulnerable communities. It became very hard for me to reconcile the reputation certain legal drugs carried stacked against that of criminalized substances; especially considering the actual effects and outcomes of these drugs and the seemingly peripheral notions of scheduling and classification. With regard to my current degree program, it was my initial hope to gain licensure as a clinical social worker so that I could attain certifications to provide psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. However, learning more about this profession and the types of changes that can be enacted at various societal platforms, I am becoming very interested in policy reform concerning current drug legislation and the research of psychedelics in the scope of mental health and complex trauma.  

2. How did you hear about SSDP?  

I believe I came to find out about SSDP by looking at the resources listed on the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. I also realized that there were two chapters of SSDP in the state of Colorado, but there was no active chapter or current work being done under this organization in Denver, specifically.

3. Why did you want to get involved? 

I was really hoping to get involved working with SSDP because I loved seeing such a fresh take on drug policies and harm reduction. It feels much more holistically relevant compared to any other form of drug education I have ever come across. Considering my passion for social justice, I also wanted to align myself with an organization that I would be proud to contribute to during my time in my Master’s program. The resources and connections that can be made possible via this organization also was a contributing factor to my involvement in SSDP, such as the sheer amount of knowledge and information provided on a huge variety of topics connected to drug policy and education, the Psychedelic Career Development Pipeline, and associated organizations like the Zendo Project. 

4. What are some of the things you have planned? What are you excited about?  

Aside from DU’s notoriously beautiful campus, one of the first things that I actually heard when I arrived on campus concerned an apparent “drug problem”. With this in mind, I am looking forward to holding discussions and generative conversations with other organizations on campus to touch upon current drug policy and harm reduction. I also hope to have the ability to increase access to naloxone by distributing it across campus. As I learn more in my Master’s program about grassroots activism, I hope to be able to contribute to more policy work as I get more comfortable with SSDP’s stances. Aside from this, I am hoping to work with other SSDP chapters, both in Colorado and globally, if possible. I am very excited to see how drug policy changes over the next few years throughout the United States, but especially in Denver. 

5. Anything else that you’d like to share? 

As I have briefly mentioned, my hometown has played an important role in how I view drug policy and the reputations that drugs carry; a vital facet of my identity involves my personal family history. During undergrad, I worked towards a degree in History, which in itself I find incredibly important to bring to the table to avoid ahistoric readings of humanity’s current predicament. However, I was able to complete a research project which explored the folk healing practices and traditions that are unique to the area. Through this work, I found out that several of my ancestors were folk healers themselves, using nature and plant medicines to heal their communities before professional doctors were even able to make it to the area. In some way or another, I wish to help carry out their legacy. It is my goal to strive for a greener future in which people are able to access life-changing medicines easily and sustainably, with utmost regard and respect to longstanding cultural traditions.