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Last week, the 25th annual National Prevention Network (NPN) Research Conference was held in Pittsburgh from September 19- 21. Established in 1982 as a component of The National Association of State Alcohol/ Drug Abuse Directors (NASADAD),  the NPN provides a national advocacy and communication system for prevention.

Co-sponsored by IRETA, the NPN conference provides a forum to explore the latest prevention research, application and practice to empower and promote positive outcomes in community, state and federal environment.

The philosophy of the NPN is that “prevention is a complex process that requires more than a singular strategy or approach.”

“No longer are we singing ‘just say no’ or relying on the egg in the frying pan to prove our point,” said Dr. Janice Petersen, NPN President. “We have evidence and science to demonstrate that with the right comprehensive strategies, prevention not only works, but also can save lives.”

“This is our time,” Dr. Frances M. Harding, Director of the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP) at SAMHSA said. “We have never had an administration that has backed prevention as much as this one.”

When the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, it created the National Prevention Council and called for the development of the first ever National Prevention Strategy. Substance use disorders are a major public health issue in the United States.  In 2001, the Department of Justice declared it America’s #1 health problem, citing research showing that there are more deaths, illnesses and disabilities from substance abuse than from any other preventable health condition.

“We are a society that is in denial,” said Gary Tennis, Secretary of Pennsylvania’s Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs.  He said he is often asked by people if there is really a need for his department.

“I tell them one out of every four families in our country is affected by addiction,” he said. “Can you tell me some other problem that is hurting one out of four American families?”

Keynote Presentation 

Dr. Michael Flaherty, IRETA founder and senior consultant, delivered the keynote speech, “Prevention, the Cornerstone of Recovery.”  He discussed the need to refine our understanding of addiction based on current best science and lived experience, which will make prevention work more relevant, adoptable, scientific, accountable and effective.

“America has been treating a major health problem – substance prevention, use and dependence – with an approach not appropriate to the illness,” he said. “Approaches…do not reflect the scientific understanding of chronic illnesses themselves, nor of how this chronic illness can be prevented and treated.”

Flaherty said we need to let the illness educate us.  He also outlined the fundamental interconnection between prevention and recovery-oriented systems of care.

“Prevention enhances recovery by using its science to build recovery capital to strengthen resiliency,” he said. “Prevention is the first and largest component of recovery.”

Click here view Dr. Flaherty’s PowerPoint presentation.

SBIRT for Nursing Students Workshop by IRETA staff 

Dr. Dawn Lindsay, Dr. Holly Hagle and Dr. Ann Mitchell

IRETA staff Dr. Dawn Lindsay and Dr. Holly Hagle and Dr. Ann Mitchell from the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing, presented their workshop “Teaching Undergraduate Nursing Students to use SBIRT in a Culturally Competent and Relevant Manner” at the NPN Conference on September 19.

The workshop discussed the three-year project in which IRETA collaborated with the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing. Utilizing clinical simulation laboratory experiences, the program enhanced students’ practice with the SBIRT model, an evidence-based practice proven to help primary care practitioners address risky behavior and reduce substance abuse.

In partnership with the Department of Health, IRETA has done SBIRT training and dissemination in Pennsylvania since 2003. The current ATN-SBIRT project is uniquely innovative because it trains at a pre-service level, meaning that nursing students learn SBIRT before they are credentialed as professionals.

The goals of the training program are:

  • Integrate a sustainable and replicable substance use educational and skill-building component within an undergraduate nursing curriculum
  • Add 140 nurses annually to the workforce who are able to identify and provide service to patients with substance use, abuse or dependence

To date, the program has trained over 300 undergraduate nursing students.

“It is exciting to see SBIRT coming of age, so to speak,” Dr. Hagle said. “We had quite a diverse group of people attending the workshop from a variety of professions (nursing, higher education, government, schools, healthcare).”

Click here view the PowerPoint presentation from the workshop

Recovery Sports Link Baseball Game

The on field recognition ceremony at PNC Park for the 9th annual Recovery Sports Link Baseball Game hosted by IRETA

September 19 also marked IRETA’s 9th annual Recovery Sports Link Baseball Game at PNC Park. In conjunction with National Recovery Month, the event celebrates those in recovery from alcohol and other drugs.

NPN Conference attendees, professionals across the continuum of the addiction field, and individuals in recovery filled the stands as “angels in the outfield” to cheer on the Pirates as they took on the Milwaukee Brewers, demonstrating that the celebration of recovery is not just for those who were actively addicted or dependent, it is something we can all share.

Once again, the Pittsburgh-based Message Carriers Recovery Choir performed the national anthem, led by Executive Director Robin Hurston Spencer. Each of the members is in recovery from drugs and alcohol, or love someone who is.

Click here to watch the Message Carrier’s performance from the game.