But I did follow Addiction Professional magazine’s Twitter feed to keep up to date on the proceedings. This was a bit of an experiment for me, as I wanted to know just how much information I’d be getting from the conference in 140-character snippets. So what did I learn about the conference from just following the tweets?
I learned that it’s important to talk about recovery with an addict from day one of care because patients start worrying about post addiction treatment from day one. That came from Lorie Obernauer, Director of Alumni and Volunteer Services with the Center for Dependency, Addiction and Rehabilitation.
I can see where recovering addicts are coming from here. We’ve all heard horror stories about withdrawal and what it does to a person and how hard it can be to beat an addiction but it seems odd that they never think past that stage to what lies beyond that; freedom from addiction.Obernauer also says one of the main client misconceptions about addiction recovery is addicts never believe that recovery is something that they can enjoy.
I also learned that the conference audience was energized by Deni Carise’s first day warning to redesign treatment operations to serve new patients. A little digging to augment the Twitter feed revealed that Carise, the chief clinical officer at Phoenix House Foundation, told conference attendees that addiction treatment centers are missing the opportunity to help a huge number of people with addiction severity levels well below their typical clients’ levels of addiction. And Carise puts that number well into the millions. These are people who meet abuse or dependence criteria or are simply harmful users of substances but who don’t see much value in traditional specialty addiction treatment programs.
In a session on young adult treatment, Ryan Salter, CEO of Ascend Recovery, argued for a bridge between residential living during rehabilitation and sober living, saying that without a transitional level between the two, young clients move from a completely structured existence in residential living while in recovery to an unstructured one when they get back to sober living outside of drug rehabilitation centers.
This is a valid point. When recovering from addiction, that very structured type of living is important for people and when it all disappears after rehabilitation, it must feel a bit like a rug being ripped out from under them.
Salter also added that the Ascend Recovery program for young adults is currently seeking to improve executive functioning.
I also learned that the Hanley Center’s director of medical research Barbara Krantz said addiction and chronic pain are similar in that they are both biopsychosocial illnesses.
Krantz also advocated for insurers to start covering more non-pharmaceutical pain treatments, such as acupuncture. Thanks to the Twitter feed of Shannon Brys, associate editor with Addiction Professional and Behavioral Healthcare magazines, I learned that Krantz said “chronic pain is a disease, not a symptom,” and the Twitter feed of Charlene Marietti told me that Krantz identified 75% of pain patients at her facility as suffering with depression, a condition that adds stress to system.
Here is something else I learned; the Austin-based Communities for Recovery (CFR) outlined its peer support model that is 130 volunteers strong.
A little extra curricular digging tells me that the primary objective of CFR is to connect patients with their volunteers before they are discharged from professional treatment. CFR’s volunteers provide clients with tools to use in transitioning from the treatment environment to everyday activities of life.
CFR’s executive director Michaelanne Hurst says her peer support organization’s purpose is to serve its volunteers because they are the ones who make the connections with recovering addicts. The organization also has five peer recovery coaches who receive a small stipend.
And I learned that Turning Point founder David Vieau says the notion of recovery being fun “is not a dirty little secret anymore” among providers and he also implored recovery providers to “just sweeten it a little bit.”
The fun and sweetness that Vieau is talking about are activities that people actually want to do, regardless of whether they are in recovery or not. Nobody ever wants to sit around all the time listening to lectures about what and who they need to stay away from. They want to do fun things. So at Turning Point, the young men who go there for recovery can play music in jam sessions, play sports, do mixed martial arts training and even attend rock concerts with people in their own age group while they are in recovery.
And finally, what I learned about the National Conference on Addiction Disorders from Twitter was rounded out by all the great Twitter feedback from some of the attendees.
Brys tweeted that David E. Smith with the American Board of Addiction Medicine says that Mental health and addiction issues need to be treated in par with medical issues.
I think that’s something we can all get behind.
Brys also tweeted that Marty Lerner, CEO and Executive Director of Milestones In Recovery, Inc. had a great presentation and discussed the addictive properties of sugar and flour.
I knew about sugar but now flour is addictive? What?
Carise’s message seemed to strike a nerve with the conference audience, with Brys tweeting an inspirational quote from Carise; “We owe it to ourselves and the clients in this field to do better.”
And Brys also added that Carise thinks that instead of putting women in jail and their children in foster care, they should both be in residential treatment.
That certainly seems to make sense.
Of course I’ve only really scratched the surface of the National Conference on Addiction Disorders via Twitter but my word count says I’m getting a bit on the high side.
There was tons of great info flying around on the social networking site from participants and attendees alike.
Since next year’s conference is going to be a bit closer to home — it’s to be held in Anaheim, CA around the same time of year — I’m hoping I can get to that one instead of just following the tweets.
This year’s conference was held in Orlando, Fla. Sept. 28 – Oct. 2. The conference is presented by Addiction Professional and Behavioral Healthcare magazines.