AATOD Conference: Out of the Shadows and the Continuum of Care
Every 18 months the American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence (AATOD) holds the premier meeting of opioid treatment programs (OTPs) and others—a gathering of clinicians, researchers, policymakers, patients, and others whose #1 concern is the treatment of opioid use disorders (OUDs). The conference is not to be missed—for its educational and networking opportunities, as well as for the chance to meet people we usually only talk with on the phone.
We’ll be there this year, in Orlando, Florida, October 19-23. Interestingly, despite the fact that opioids seem to appear in almost every headline, media coverage of AATOD is sparse (except for a handful of us, of course). This year, that may be different.
Conference Theme: Challenges
The conference theme is “Out of the Shadows: Managing the Opioid Epidemic Through the Continuum of Care.” It reflects the challenges of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) in the context of the current opioid crisis.
Getting patients, families, the courts, and even the medical system to accept MAT and to integrate options into their services will be key to this year’s conference.
Discussing the latest research and regulatory developments relevant to the field, and critically evaluating the implications for managing the opioid epidemic;
Disseminating initiatives to better serve patients and providers, improve program development and administration, and enhance patient outcomes;
Promoting strategies that assist healthcare partnerships and collaborations by advancing understanding and acceptance of medication for the treatment of opioid use disorder;
Facilitating the collaboration between OTPs and community partners in response to the heightened risks associated with the use of opioids;
Strategizing approaches to integrate medication for the treatment of opioid use disorder into the judicial and penal systems, social service organizations, and mainstream medicine; and
Identifying the long-standing misinformation and stigma, and promoting acceptance of quality, comprehensive medical treatment for opioid dependence throughout the continuum of care, to effectively manage the nation’s opioid crisis.
The big sessions—the plenaries—are the ones everyone goes to—not the breakout sessions, which are full of important information as well. Here are the plenaries:
1) State and national issues related to opioid use disorders. This session features Jim Carroll, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and Ute Gazioch, director of Substance Abuse and Mental Health at the Florida Department of Children and Families.
2) How judicial and criminal justice systems interact with treatment providers. Paul Samuels, president of the Legal Action Center, will moderate. Speakers will discuss MAT in terms of their areas of work: Judge Jeri Cohen from Circuit 11 in Miami (drug courts), Jim Pavletich, from the National Commission on Correctional Health Care (correctional facilities), and Sheriff Dennis Lemma of the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office (role of sheriffs).
3) Gilberto Gerra, MD, director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
Travel Help From Pharma
In the past, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has provided scholarships for prospective patient advocates to attend the Certified MAT Advocate (CMA), held every 18 months as a Pre-Conference Session at AATOD. This year, SAMHSA provided no scholarship monies for patient advocates, which is of great concern to the National Alliance for Medication Assisted Recovery (NAMA).
Zachary Talbott, president-elect of NAMA, thanks Indivior, Vistapharm, and Mallinckrodt fo their gracious sponsorship for training for the Certified MAT Advocate (CMA) training program that is held in conjunction with the AATOD Conference.
This kind of support will help NAMA Recovery as it continues to represent all MAT patients, Mr. Talbott told AT Forum.
The Mallinckrodt sponsorship over the past 20 years helps pay for the CMA training meeting room, audiovisual equipment/technology, and supplies. Scholarships provided by SAMHSA, which were not available this year, provided funding for travel, lodging, and a daily per diem for patient advocates registered the CMA training course.
Finally, about the conference: it’s always fun. Local flair, great people, bustling exhibit hall, and information you will get to hear about in AT Forum when we return for the next issue.