“What you always do before you make a decision is consult. The best public policy is made when you are listening to people who are going to be impacted. Then, once a policy is determined, you call on them to help you sell it.”
— Elizabeth Dole

“Most people who become addicted [to opioids] like me do so after a prescription for a painkiller following a medical procedure. Once the phenomenon of craving sets in, it is often too late." Jamie Lee Curtis (Actress), ABC News (July 25, 2017)

News - 28 Feb 2024

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After Capitol riots, AOC demands Cruz, Hawley resign from the Senate
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Drug and Substance Misuse in American Communities:
Addressing the nation’s opioid crisis and the role of legislation in regulating this phenomenon

Key Speakers

Susie Mullens, Psychologist and Regional Vice President of the New Jersey Addiction Professionals Association (NJAPA).
Alicia Sparks, Chair of the U.S. Alcohol Policy Alliance and Co-Chair of the Alcohol Policy Conference.
Sherri Layton, Director of Public Policy at La Hacienda Treatment Center; Chair of NAADAC’s Public Policy Committee; Former President of Texas Association of Addiction Professionals (TAAP).
Shannon Hoffman, Policy Program Specialist at the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health.

This event was held on Tuesday, February 27th 2024.


The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that 2020 was a prominent year for opioid usage among American communities. “Opioid-involved overdose deaths rose from 21,089 in 2010 to 47,600 in 2017 and remained steady through 2019. This was followed by a significant increase in 2020 with 68,630 reported deaths and again in 2021 with 80,411 reported overdose deaths.” (National Institute on Drug Abuse) According to the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC), most drug overdoses are caused by synthetic opioids. “Opioids – mainly synthetic opioids (other than methadone) – are currently the main driver of drug overdose deaths. Nearly 88% of opioid-involved overdose deaths involved synthetic opioids.” (Centers for Disease and Prevention CDC) What are opioids? “Opioids, a class of drugs derived from the opium poppy plant, can be divided into two broad categories: legally manufactured medications and illicit narcotics.” (Claire Klobucista and Alejandra Martinez, Council on Foreign Relations) Claire Klobucista and Alejandra Martinez from the Council on Foreign Relations noted that opioid use, particularly fentanyl, increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, calling this drug use an epidemic of its own. They also went into detail of who is more at risk of overusing these drugs, showing the demographics of this phenomenon: “The vast majority of those who overdose on opioids are non-Hispanic white Americans, who made up close to 70% of the annual total in 2020. Black Americans and Hispanic Americans accounted for about 17% to 12% of cases, respectively.” (Claire Klobucista and Alejandra Martinez, Council on Foreign Relations) The United States Department of Agriculture says that rural communities face many threats when it comes to drug and substance abuse, particularly opioids. The National Safety Council (NSC) also gives statistics as to the age groups that are most affected: “The 35 to 44 year age group is experiencing the most opioid overdose deaths – 20,137, a 20% increase from 2020, and a 73% increase since 2019. Currently, 71% of preventable opioid deaths occur among those ages 25 to 54, and the number of deaths among individuals 55 and older in growing rapidly. Few opioid deaths occur among children younger than 15.” (National Safety Council)

In September of 2022, the Biden-Harris Administration released new actions and funding to address the overdose epidemic and offer support recovery for victims of substance abuse. In this action statement, $1.5 billion was given to all states and territories to help them tackle this opioid crisis and support people that they have in recovery. In particular, $104 million was given to expand treatment options and prevention efforts in rural communities around the country. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) says that policy should focus primarily on 4 key components, being primary prevention, harm reduction, evidence-based treatment, and lastly recovery support. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says that the opioid crisis has been putting a strain on the nation’s overall budget, since more services are required. (The opioid crisis has affected spending and revenues in the federal budget. Federal spending on health care, the child welfare system, means-tested social programs, and efforts to reduce drug trafficking has increased.” (Congressional Budget Office)

 The journal entitled Addiction Science & Clinical Practice wrote an article highlighting the gaps between the opioid crisis and policy, concluding that the quality of treatment is a big one because each individual is different, and therefore there is not a ‘one and done’ type of treatment, rather each person needs to be assessed individually and treated in the way that suits them best. Mental health was another big factor in addressing the gaps, because many people resort to opioid use to assuage their mental health issues, a big one being Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), particularly among soldiers. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) says that another gap is that of access to care. Many individuals living in rural communities don’t have access to care in close proximity to them, therefore expanding this issue. “To facilitate expansion of access to care, SAMHSA proposes to update OTP admission criteria… This includes removal of the one-year requirement for opioid addiction before admission to an OTP, in favor of considering a person’s problematic patterns of opioid use. In conjunction with updated standards that include extended take-home doses of methadone and access to telehealth, these changes are likely to expand access while also improving retention in treatment.” (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)

 This symposium seeks to address the drug and substance crisis that the nation faces, particularly how it pertains to opioids. By attending this seminar, individuals will be able to understand the causes and effects of opioid addiction across several communities in the United States, and the gaps that policy needs to address in order to improve the lives of millions and make communities stronger and healthier.


  • Assess the impact of new federal legislation emphasizing access to treatment and harm reduction within the opioid crisis arena.
  • Explore strategies to curb prescription fentanyl and opioid drug abuse.
  • Discuss ways to improve coordination at the local level for effective treatment and overdose prevention.
  • Share strategies for harm reduction.
  • Examine ways to prevent substance and drug abuse among youth and rural communities.
  • Address the inequities in drug policy and access to treatment, particularly those who live far from access to health care.
  • Consider the unintended consequences of ineffective drug policy and how to prevent them.
  • Identify opportunities for different sectors and stakeholders to tackle drug abuse together.
  • Think of methods to assist rural populations and other communities that are difficult to reach and suffer from opioid overdoses. 

Who Should Attend?

  • Treatment Providers
  • Substance Misuse Counselors
  • Recovery Services Staff
  • Sober Living Providers
  • County SUD Administrators and Prevention Coordinators
  • SUD Researchers and Academics
  • SUD Policy and Advocacy Workers
  • Coalition, Community and Faith-based Organizations
  • Women’s and Perinatal Service Providers
  • Veteran Service Providers
  • DUI Service Providers
  • Health Care Administrators, Planners, Providers
  • School Health Clinicians
  • Tribal and Indian Health Clinicians/Traditional Healers
  • Tribal Law Enforcement Agencies
  • Tribal Community Leaders and Social Services Specialists
  • Behavioral Health/Mental Health Administrators, Coordinators, Providers
  • SUD/Mental Health Clinicians
  • Wellness Providers
  • Public Health Administrators, Planners, Providers
  • Primary Care Physicians
  • General Practitioners and Nurses
  • Education Administrators and Planners
  • School District and LEA Representatives
  • Judges
  • Court Personnel, Probation and Parole officers
  • Drug Enforcement Agencies
  • Customs and Border Protection
  • County and City Departments of Mental Health
  • Social Services Caseworker/Social Worker
  • Foster Youth Advocates and Providers
  • Homeless Advocates, Caseworkers, Outreach Teams and Placement Coordinators
  • Shelter Case Managers
  • Other Individual, Family, and Community Stakeholders 
  • Counselling Services
  • Family Support and Outreach Teams
  • Adult and Community Education Providers
  • Early Intervention and Prevention Teams
  • Rehabilitation Centers
  • Pharmaceutical Industry Represenatives 
  • Law Enforcement Agencies
  • Addiction Psychiatrists and Psychologists
  • Parenting Practitioners
  • Third Sector Organizations/NGOs
  • Academics and Researchers
This event was held on Tuesday, February 27th 2024.

Sponsorship and Exhibition Opportunities

If you’re interested in promoting your company, products and/or services at our events, please click here to enter your details and we will contact you directly. Alternatively, please call
+1 (310) 385 8750 for more information.

How to Book

+1 (310) 385 8750