The Mid-Atlantic Research and Training Institute for Community and Behavioral Health (MARTI-CBH) Conference, “Promoting Recovery and Wellness: For Individuals, Families and Communities,” will be held July 10–14, 2017, at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

This cross-disciplinary conference will provide an in-depth focus on the opioid epidemic and suicide prevention.

Nationally Renowned Speakers

For each of the five days of training, there will be nationally renowned keynote speakers as well as a variety of breakout sessions focused on both research and clinical training. Daily panels within the larger conference are organized according to sub-themes. Afternoon sessions will focus on in-depth training on special topics, including ethical practice in clinical work with opioid users.

Conference proceedings are beneficial for practitioners and researchers in social, behavioral, and medical science disciplines, agencies, and professions. Continuing education units for teachers, social workers, counselors, psychologists, and nurses are being offered. Approved Continuing Education Units include APA, PA SW, PCB, NBCC, CRCC, and Act 48.

Christian Vaccaro, associate professor in the Department of Sociology at IUP and one of the organizers of this event said, “I have had seven—yes seven—close friends and family members die from opioid-related overdoses. The conference planners hope to achieve full attendance capacity and invite anyone who may—through their work or daily routine—come into contact with someone abusing or addicted to opioids. We hope our training helps stop this crisis.”

Melissa Swauger said, “We cannot overemphasize the quality of national and international renowned researchers and practitioners who will be speakers presenting at the conference. We are hopeful there is robust attendance.”

The organizers have developed undergraduate and graduate academic courses in sociology to be offered in conjunction with the conference. The courses will require attendance at the conference and will feature supplemental material on the topics of Opioids and Suicide.

Course participants must attend all five days of the MARTI conference at IUP; the rest of the course will occur online. The cost of attendance for registered students will be covered in their tuition.

Non-tuition paying attendees can select from single day registration ($100 per day) to full conference registration ($425). Some scholarship funds are available to help defray costs. IUP students, faculty, or staff not taking the conference for academic credit will receive a discounted rate of $100.

How to Pre-register

Preregistration is required and can be made by contacting the IUP Office of Conference Services at 724-357-2227. Programmatic questions can be made to Crystal at 724-357-1288. The complete conference schedule is available at the Mid-Atlantic Research and Training Institute for Community and Behavioral Health Conference website.

Financial sponsors for the 2017 Summer Conference include Community Care and UPMC Health Plan.

Keynote faculty and their presentations are:

  • Robert Ackerman, former IUP sociology professor and international expert, will present two workshops: “The Emotional and Behavioral Impact on Children/Adolescents Living in Dysfunctional Families,” and “Opioid Addiction and the Family: Using a Strength-Based Model for Treatment and Recovery.”
  • Dennis Daley, director of Substance Use Services at UPMC Health Plan, renowned advocate and expert on substance abuse, will present “Regional Strategies to Address the Opioid Epidemic.”
  • Antoine Douaihy, professor of psychiatry and medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, senior academic director of addiction medicine services at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, and director of the Addiction Psychiatry Fellowship at WPIC, will present “Medication-Assisted-Treatment for Opioid Addiction: The New Gold Standard?”
  • Richard Jones, executive director of Faces and Voices of Recovery (FAVOR) in Greenville, S.outh Carolina, will present “Peer Support and Family Recovery” and “Reaching the Disengaged 90%.”
  • Ralph May, chief clinical officer, Community Guidance Center, Indiana; co-chair, Indiana County Suicide Task Force; and clinical director of the Indiana County Critical Incident Stress Debriefing Team, will present “Suicide, Mental Illness, and Substance Use: Current Issues.”
  • Michael Parkinson, senior medical director for UPMC Health Plan and WorkPartners; principal, PC Health, LLC, will present “Walking the Talk: Being Our Best Self to Help our Patients Do the Same.”
  • Mark Sanders, international speaker in the behavioral health fields, author, and lecturer at the University of Chicago, will present three programs: “Relationship Detox: Helping Chemically Dependent Clients Develop Healthy Relationships in Recovery;” “Gender-Responsive Services: A Focus on the Treatment Needs of Chemically Dependent Men and Women;” and “When the Titanic Meets the Iceberg: Addressing the Trauma Underneath Substance Use Disorders, Criminality, and Self-Harming Behavior.”
  • Karen Vadino, a motivational speaker, humorist, trainer, and consultant, will present “Loss and Grief: Complicated by Addiction” and “All Stressed Up and No One To Choke.”
  • Ajay Wasan, vice chair for Pain Medicine in the Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and a professor of anesthesiology and psychiatry in the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, will present “Understanding Chronic Pain, Opioids, and Addiction.”

Actor, Comedian to Share Story in Free, Open to the Public Session

Other presenters include comedian Gary Owen, reality television star and movie actor from Think Like a Man 1 and 2, who will share his personal tragedy of losing his brother to heroin in a free session open to the public on July 12 at 4:45 p.m. in room 225 of the new Humanities and Social Sciences Building on the IUP campus.

Ryan Brannon, an IUP graduate and 2015 winner of the Pennsylvania System of Higher Education Business Plan contest for My New Leaf, a computer app to chart recovery, will present “Can Recovery Be Fun? My New Leaf, a Gamified Addiction Recovery App Targeting Millennials Using Best Practices, Feedback Loops and Rewards.”

Erick Lauber, associate professor in the Department of Journalism and Public Relations, director of Community Health and Leadership at MART-CBH, and author, will present “What Are They Telling Us, and What Are We Telling Them: How Local Media Can Frame Addiction Issues and What Can Be Done About It.”

Other workshop and panel topics include:

  • “Recovery is a Journey, Not a Destination: Hope for Individuals, Families and Communities Affected by Addiction”
  • “QPR Gatekeeper Training: Question, Persuade, Refer”
  • “What Do Suicide, Addiction, Unemployment, and Crime Often Have in Common? A History of Head Trauma Could Be the Cause”
  • “Warm Hand-offs: Engaging Introductions to Treatment”
  • “The Impact of Suicide”
  • “Non-Pharmaceutical Treatment of Addiction Disorders and Substance Abuse: A New Era”
  • “Keeping Secrets: Ethics Checklists for Protecting Confidentiality Rights”
  • “Substance Use Prevention and Intervention in College Health Settings”

The 2017 program is the 27th annual MARTI summer conference. MARTI (founded in 1988 as the Mid-Atlantic Addiction and Training Institute), is one of 40-plus centers and institutes at IUP. For decades, MARTI has been a powerhouse organized around a consortium of academic and professional experts in the field of alcohol abuse treatment, domestic violence intervention, and related mental health issues.

Since 2012, the institute's new director, associate director, and research associates have expanded the institute's early focus to include new initiatives—among them, alcohol and drug research, veterans' reintegration, family and mental health issues, training conferences for health professionals and educators, and community outreach. During the next three years, MARTI will take a three-pronged approach to addressing the opioid and suicide crises by obtaining research grants, community outreach, and professional development and training. This year's summer conference kicks off the professional and training efforts.