MARTI conference to address two pressing health topics

The opioid epidemic and suicide prevention will be a primary focus of a behavioral health conference on the campus of Indiana University of Pennsylvania next month.

The Mid-Atlantic Research and Training Institute for Community Behavioral Health (MARTI-CBH) Conference, “Promoting Recovery and Wellness: For Individuals, Families and Communities,” will be held July 10-14 at IUP.

For each of the five days of training, there will be nationally renowned keynote speakers as well as a variety of breakout sessions focused on both research and clinical training.

Daily panels within the larger conference are organized according to sub-themes. Afternoon sessions will focus on in-depth training on special topics, including ethical practice in clinical work with opioid users.

Conference proceedings are beneficial for practitioners and researchers in social, behavioral and medical science disciplines, agencies and professions, according to organizers. Continuing education units for teachers, social workers, counselors, psychologists and nurses are being offered. Approved Continuing Education Units include APA, PA SW, PCB, NBCC, CRCC and Act 48.

Dr. Christian Vaccaro, associate professor of sociology at IUP and one of the organizers of this event, said, “I have had seven close friends and family members die from opioid-related overdoses. The conference planners hope to achieve full attendance capacity and invite anyone who may — through their work or daily routine — come into contact with someone abusing or addicted to opioids. We hope our training helps stop this crisis.”

The organizers have developed undergraduate and graduate academic courses in sociology to be offered in conjunction with the conference. The courses will require attendance at the conference and will feature supplemental material on the topics of opioids and suicide.

Course participants must attend all five days of the MARTI conference at IUP; the rest of the course will occur online. The cost of attendance for registered students will be covered in their tuition.

Non-tuition paying attendees can select from single-day registration ($100 per day) to full conference registration ($425). Some scholarship funds are available to help defray costs. IUP students, staff or faculty not taking the academic credit will receive a discounted rate of $100.

Registration is required and can be made by contacting the IUP Office of Conference Services at (724) 357-2227. Programmatic questions can be made to Crystal at (724) 357-1288. The complete conference schedule is available on the IUP website.

Keynote faculty and their presentations are:

• Dr. Robert Ackerman, former IUP sociology professor and international expert, will present two workshops: “The Emotional and Behavioral Impact on Children/Adolescents Living in Dysfunctional Families” and “Opioid Addiction and the Family: Using a Strength Based Model for Treatment and Recovery.”

• Dr. Dennis Daley, director of Substance Use Services at UPMC Health Plan, renowned advocate and expert on substance abuse, will present “Regional Strategies to Address the Opioid Epidemic.”

• Dr. Antoine Douaihy, professor of psychiatry and medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, senior academic director of addiction medicine services at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic and director of the Addiction Psychiatry Fellowship at WPIC, will present “Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Addiction: The New Gold Standard?”

• Richard Jones, executive director of Faces and Voices of Recovery (FAVOR) in Greenville, S.C., will present “Peer Support and Family Recovery” and “Reaching the Disengaged 90%.”

• Dr. Ralph May, chief clinical officer, Community Guidance Center, Indiana; co-chair, Indiana County Suicide Task Force; and clinical director of the Indiana County Critical Incident Stress Debriefing Team, will present “Suicide, Mental Illness and Substance Use: Current Issues.”

• Dr. Michael Parkinson, senior medical director for UPMC Health Plan and WorkPartners; and principal, PC Health LLC, will present “Walking the Talk: Being Our Best Self to Help our Patients Do the Same.”

• Mark Sanders, international speaker in the behavioral health fields, author and lecturer at the University of Chicago, will present three programs: “Relationship Detox: Helping Chemically Dependent Clients Develop Healthy Relationships in Recovery”; “Gender-Responsive Services: A Focus on the Treatment Needs of Chemically Dependent Men and Women”; and “When the Titanic Meets the Iceberg: Addressing the Trauma Underneath Substance Use Disorders, Criminality and Self-Harming Behavior.”

• Karen Vadino, a motivational speaker, humorist, trainer and consultant, will present “Loss and Grief: Complicated by Addiction” and “All Stressed Up and No One To Choke.”

• Dr. Ajay Wasan, vice chair for pain medicine in the Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and a professor of Anesthesiology and Psychiatry in the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, will present “Understanding Chronic Pain, Opioids and Addiction.”

Other presenters include comedian Gary Owen, reality television star and movie actor from “Think Like a Man” and “Think Like a Man Too,” will share his personal tragedy of losing his brother to heroin in a session open to the public on July 12 at 4:45 p.m.

Ryan Brannon, an IUP graduate and 2015 winner of the Pennsylvania System of Higher Education Business Plan Contest for “My New Leaf,” a computer app to chart recovery, will present “Can Recovery Be Fun? My New Leaf, a Gamified Addiction Recovery App Targeting Millennials Using Best Practices, Feedback Loops and Rewards.”

Dr. Erick Lauber, associate professor in IUP’s Journalism and Public Relations Department, director of Community and Health and Leadership at MART-CBH, and author, will present “What Are They Telling Us, and What Are We Telling Them: How Local Media Can Frame Addiction Issues and What Can Be Done About It.”

Other workshop and panel topics include:

• Recovery is a Journey, Not a Destination: Hope for Individuals, Families and Communities Affected by Addiction

• QPR Gatekeeper Training: Question, Persuade, Refer

• What Do Suicide, Addiction, Unemployment and Crime Often Have in Common? A History of Head Trauma Could Be the Cause

• Warm Hand-offs: Engaging Introductions to Treatment

• The Impact of Suicide

• Non-Pharmaceutical Treatment of Addiction Disorders and Substance Abuse: A New Era

• Keeping Secrets: Ethics Checklists for Protecting Confidentiality Rights

• Substance Use Prevention and Intervention in College Health Settings

The 2017 program is the 27th annual MARTI summer conference. MARTI (founded in 1988 as the Mid-Atlantic Addiction and Training Institute), is one of 40 plus centers and institutes at IUP.