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More than 200 addiction professionals gathered in Oxford for a three-day conference recently, focused on how the field of addiction treatment is evolving in Mississippi and across the nation.
The 24th Annual Conference of the Mississippi Association of Addiction Professionals (MAAP) was held July 22-24 at the Oxford Conference Center. Seminars and events focused on the theme “Horizons of Hope & Healing: Treatment Trends in a Changing World.” The event was sponsored by MAAP and hosted by Oxford Treatment Center.
“Many of our participants noted this was the best conference they have ever attended,” said outgoing MAAP President Martha Wittig, PhD, ICAADC, ICCS. “The venue, the amenities and the program all added up to produce a conference that will provide MAAP with a new sense of purpose and identity in this rapidly changing field.”
ABOVE: Jerri Avery, PhD, Director of the Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Services, Mississippi Department of Mental Health. TOP PHOTO: From left: Tom Fowlkes, MD, Chief Medical Officer for Oxford Treatment Center, with keynote speakers Michael Walsh, President/CEO of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP) and Jean Campbell, LCSW, TEP, Director of the Action Institute of California.
Attendees had the chance to hear from Michael Walsh, president/CEO of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Professionals, who offered his perspective on the future of addiction treatment.
“Our industry is in the middle of an important era, in which it is critical for us to unite and speak to the policymakers and decision makers with one voice,” Walsh said. “Many states are considering legislation which will make treatment services available — but what services will become available is up for debate.”
This is a critical time, he said, for addiction professionals, as well as former patients in recovery and their family and friends, to advocate for better access to the most effective treatment models.
“‘One size fits all’ treatment plans and short-term stays with no continuing care produce inferior results,” Walsh said. “As the treatment paradigm shifts from acute care to chronic-disease management, aftercare and alumni care must become part of every organization’s fabric and culture.”
Additional keynote speakers featured at the conference included Jean Campbell, LSCW, TEP, director of the Action Institute of California in Cardiff, Calif. Campbell said that attending the conference offered a reminder of how all professionals in the treatment field share common needs and experiences.
“It was helpful to me to understand some of the trends that are occurring in the state of Mississippi,” she said, “and to see how, no matter where we are in the country, we as professionals have to practice our own self-care in order to best attend to clients and their families to assist them in their recovery process.”
Two leaders from Integrative Life Center in Nashville, Tenn. — CEO Lee McCormick and Director of Women’s Programming Mary Faulkner, MA — filled out the keynote roster.
Highlights of the conference included a special reception honoring the Director of the Mississippi Department of Mental Health Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Services, Jerri Avery, Ph.D.
“The Bureau was so pleased by the invitation extended by MAAP and always enjoys interacting with professionals in the substance abuse treatment field,” Avery said. “We were honored to be part of such a well-organized event.”
Attendees were treated to a tour of historic Oxford sites aboard the city’s iconic double-decker bus. Special offerings at the conference also included four sessions in which small groups were able to experience equine therapy at Oxford Treatment Center’s residential campus.
Overall, the conference experience was an encouragement to those taking part, said Hattiesburg psychiatrist Alexis Polles, MD, who presented on the topic of identifying and treating co-occurring disorders.
“The attendees’ level of interest and willing participation in the learning process were energizing and gave me great hope for the quality and breadth of treatment that these clinicians will continue to provide to those suffering with addiction,” she said. “This is a time of growth and challenge in our field, and I feel confident that the members of this organization will meet these opportunities with enthusiasm and professionalism.”
The 2014 Conference Committee was led by Dee Meux, ICADC, Director of the Intensive Family Therapy Program for Oxford Treatment Center. Chad Clardy, ICADC, Tupelo-based community relations representative for Oxford Treatment Center, also served on the committee.
Oxford Center staff members taking part as conference presenters included Chief Medical Officer Tom Fowlkes, MD; Clinical Director Stephen Pannel, D.O.; therapist Susannah Furr, M.Ed., LPC; and board certified music therapist Michelle Cooper, Ph. D. Leading the equine therapy sessions at Oxford Treatment Center were Dale Phillips, CEALS, and Clint Crawford, MS.