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78th Summer School of Addiction Studies

The 78th Summer School of Addiction Studies was held virtually over four days, including a one-day Conference. The Conference Day included an innovative keynote panel, dynamic morning speaker, and our own speed skill development sessions in the afternoon. Our keynote panel included four women of color from across the United States sharing their “experience, strength, and hope” to help “normalize the presence and power of marginalized folks in recovery.” It was a powerful experience to hear these young women challenge the status quo of how we view recovery for all people and to encourage us to think about what recovery means to the diverse individuals we support.

Following the conference, summer school included three days of intensive course work on a variety of evidence-based topics in addiction treatment. The theme this year was, Science, Cultural Humility, and Compassion: Paving the Road to Recovery. The courses followed this theme with topics such as “Exploring Racial Trauma from Antiracist Lens” and “Addressing the Crisis of Credibility in Addiction Treatment: Building Best Practices Through Research, Outcomes and Compassion.” Along with course offerings, we partnered with Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Dr. Anthony Tobia to host our 8th annual SSAS movie night for summer school participants and medical students. This year, the featured film was Star Trek: First Contact. After the film, the screenwriter, Brannon Braga, was available to discuss the film’s connection to this year’s theme with attendees.

After four days of intense trainings, it was gratifying to hear participants discuss their overall experience. Participants mentioned that course content contributed to both personal and professional growth and expressed appreciation for the quality of instructors: “The shared experiences and exercises in the antiracism class were very deep, impactful, at times uncomfortable, filled with compassion and vulnerability. I will remember the participants of this class, and the break-out room sharing and group discussions from this class.”

One of the most impactful statements was the mention of paying forward what they have learned: “Thank you for the opportunity for the scholarships provided. It is essential that we learn all this information about advances in addiction and mental health treatment and approaches during these challenging times. You are helping to keep us informed on the latest research, trends, movements in our society, as well as ways to understand and meet the cultural and diversity needs are so essential to each person. Thank you for an amazing experience. I am sure we will pay it forward to our agencies and to all those we serve. “

We are grateful for the support of the New Jersey Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services, as well as C4 Recovery Solutions. Both organizations provided scholarships for participant attendance.

The Summer School of Addiction Studies is an intensive multidisciplinary experience.

Consider joining us next year (July 11-14, 2022).

Written by Lorraine Y. Howard, LCSW, LCADC is the Director of Addiction Education at Rutgers Center of Alcohol & Substance Use Studies (CAS), Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology.