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CAS Summer Symposium 2023: A great success!

Over 130 people attended the CAS Summer Symposium June 14, 2023. Most were from New Jersey and New York, but Connecticut, Maine, and Maryland also were represented. The theme of the event was Looking Ahead: Science, Practice, and Advocacy to Meet Emerging Addiction Challenges. Dr. Denise Hien, CAS Director, delivered opening remarks, highlighting the importance of providing cutting edge and meaningful bridges between science, practice, and advocacy—bridges that can help people in the community use practices that have been demonstrated scientifically to work. She also stressed the need for creating and sustaining community within the field, while partnering with stakeholders in the wider community, including people in recovery whose personal experience and expertise can contribute so much to policies and services that foster healing and ensure vibrant healthy communities. Several individuals were presented with awards:

  • Lisa Laitman received the Lifetime Achievement in Practice award for her support of young adults in recovery and for founding and leading the Rutgers University Recovery House.
  • Thomas Babor, the outgoing editor of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs,
  • Teresa López-Castro was honored as the Community-Engaged Researcher of the Year. Her work on health disparities among minority populations has focused on transdiagnostic interventions. She actively engages stakeholders, including underserved communities of color, to effectively address the need for culturally responsive, context affirming care.
  • Paolo del Vecchio, SAMHSA Director of the Office of Recovery and the Director of the Office of Management, Technology, and Operations was honored for Lifetime Achievement in Leadership. The award is in recognition of his many years of public service and his consistent and pioneering work supporting people with mental health and substance use challenges, including providing opportunities for their voices to be heard in the development of policies and programs.

Paolo del Vecchio

In his remarks at the Symposium, del Vecchio reviewed the priorities and overarching principles guiding the current work of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. He also gave background on the concept of recovery and the 2022 Recovery Summit. SAMHSA goals include inclusion, equity, peer services, addressing social determinants of recovery, and wellness.

Imani Breakthrough

The Imani Breakthrough Project is a community, cultural, and faith-based recovery initiative for Black and Latinx communities in response to the current opioid crisis. Dr. Chyrell Bellamy and Dr. Mark Costa presented on the project. Since Latinx and Black adults have been less likely to access substance use treatment in traditional settings, the Imani Breakthrough Project developed a new approach by engaging churches as partners in offering education sessions. Two components of the program take place over six months. First, 12 weeks of classes and activities focus on wellness enhancement, with concurrent wrap-around support and coaching. These sessions are followed by 10 weeks of mutual support. Over four years, about 1500 people have accessed this program, with preliminary evidence showing that it directly addresses the barriers to access of effective medication-assisted treatment.

History of Addiction Science

At the CAS Summer Symposium, the outgoing Editor of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs (JSAD), Thomas Babor provided a history of addiction science, practice, and policy advocacy and the role that JSAD has played in meeting emerging challenges. Work on what would become JSAD began in 1939 at Yale, where a review of the scientific literature led to establishing a quarterly journal the following year, focused on alcohol studies. In 1962, this work moved to Rutgers and, in 1975, the Journal moved to monthly publication. In 1983, the Journal shifted to bimonthly publication and, in 2007, expanded its focus to include both alcohol and drugs studies, adopting its current name.

Early on, the Journal published studies on underage drinking, alcohol-impaired driving, and family history of alcohol problems, among other topics. The Journal and the Center of Alcohol Studies together contributed to the development of a device to estimate blood alcohol levels, an outpatient clinic model to treat alcoholism, and a plan for workers that influenced the development of employee assistance programs, as well as other accomplishments.  Recent contributions include data leading to the recent World Health Organization conclusion the there are no safe limits of alcohol consumption, research suggesting that alcohol marketing causes relapse for people in recovery, an other influential publications.

Unite at CAS Summer Symposium 2023

As with many conferences, the recent Summer Symposium provided an opportunity for colleagues and friends to get together.