March 3 GSSW Conference to Mull Methadone Issues

March 3 GSSW Conference to Mull Methadone Issues

A conference hosted and co-sponsored by the Graduate School of Social Work on Monday, March 3, will examine the social and criminal justice issues surrounding the use of methadone in substance abuse treatment.

"Methadone Maintenance: Facts, Controversies and Issues for the 21st Century," which will be held in Fulton 511, will feature a keynote address by Faulkner Hospital Addiction Recovery Program Medical Director Alan Wartenberg, MD, a panel discussion and several workshops.

The conference is the third in a series on substance abuse and criminal justice policy in Massachusetts organized by the National Association of Social Workers, and will bring to campus social work and human services practitioners, clients, program directors and policy-makers from New England.

"Often, the criminal justice system is used to handle substance abuse, and this tends to be a punitive and not overly effective approach," said conference co-organizer GSSW part-time faculty member Dorothy Weitzman, who is the school's community liaison on social issues and chairs the NASW Massachusetts chapter's Criminal Justice Committee.

"Methadone maintenance is an alternative, and under-appreciated, method of treating heroin addiction. At a time when heroin use is rising, according to the Department of Public Health, and there is great concern over the impact of budget cuts on social services, we hope this conference will help offer a clearer picture on methadone."

After a welcome from Massachusetts Department of Public Health Associate Commissioner Deborah Klein Walker, the conference will kick off at 9:10 a.m. with the keynote, titled "Methadone Maintenance: The Continuing Battle for Acceptance," by Dr. Wartenberg, who is medical director of the Addiction Treatment Center of New England.

The morning session will conclude with a panel discussion, "Methadone as Current and Former Clients See It: The Voices of Experience," featuring one current and three former methadone clients. Chairing the panel will be Dana Moulton, project assistant with the Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery and co-director of the National Alliance of Methadone Advocates state chapter, and Elizabeth Trimmer, coordinator of the Rhode Island Community for Addiction Recovery Efforts.

Following the lunch break, two workshop sessions will take place on the first and second floors of Fulton Hall. Among other topics, the workshops will discuss the basic tenets of methadone treatment, the need for programs tailored to women on methadone, methadone maintenance and the criminal justice system, and treatment options for methadone users who are mentally ill.

-Sean Smith


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