Nearly 2,700 Substance Abuse Prevention Specialists Made a ‘Monumental Impact’ at CADCA’s National Leadership Forum

Nearly 2,700 substance abuse prevention and treatment specialists from throughout the country convened at CADCA’s 26th Annual National Leadership Forum this week at the Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center in National Harbor, Md.

CADCA’s National Leadership Forum is the nation's premier training event for substance abuse prevention and treatment professionals and researchers, featuring more than 70 training courses to help participants learn effective strategies to address drug-related problems in their communities. This four-day training event brings together community drug prevention coalitions from all regions of the country and internationally, government leaders, youth, prevention specialists, addiction treatment professionals, addiction recovery advocates, researchers, educators, law enforcement professionals, and faith-based leaders. Topics ranged from how to address the heroin and opioid epidemic and marijuana use among youth to how to reduce tobacco use and underage drinking.

“The CADCA Forum is more than a training event. It’s a national movement that brings together federal and state officials and community leaders from across the country to find solutions to our nation’s substance abuse problems,” said CADCA Chairman and CEO Gen. Arthur T. Dean. “Attendees leave our Forum with the inspiration, information, and strategies they need to make their communities safe, healthy and drug free.”

The event kicked off Monday with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Prevention Day including an address from the Surgeon General, Vice Admiral Vivek H. Murthy, M.D., M.B.A. Later that night, attendees visited poster sessions and exhibit booths.

Tuesday, During the National Leadership Plenary, coalitions heard from CADCA’s Chairman and CEO, Gen. Arthur T. Dean, as well as Office of Drug Control Policy Director Michael Botticelli, DEA Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg, and Bertha K. Madras, PhD, Professor of Psychobiology, Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

Rosenberg discussed the urgency of addressing the heroin use and prescription drug abuse epidemic in this country as well as his agency’s 360 strategy as a way of turning things around.

“If we spent months covering Ebola (in the media), we ought to spend more time highlighting the 129 overdose deaths a day here,” Rosenberg told the packed room.

Dr. Madras addressed the importance of using science to inform the public about marijuana's harm in her keynote presentation.

"This is not a war on drugs. It's a defense of our brains,” said Madras.

The Forum featured two days of Power Sessions, which are unique opportunities to engage with Federal representatives. For example, George F. Koob, PhD, Director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, provided an overview of the forthcoming NIAAA Strategic Plan and articulate his vision for the future of alcohol research at NIAAA. And Wilson M. Compton, M.D., M.P.E. from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, lead a conversation about the opioid crisis along with discussion of interventions where community coalitions may play a key role.

On Tuesday night, CADCA held a ceremony that honored 179 coalitions that graduated this week from the National Coalition Academy, a year-long training program.

“Our celebration was the most amazing one yet,” said Melissa-Kim Tom, Training Manager, CADCA’s National Coalition Institute.

During Capitol Hill Day on Wednesday, participants heard a legislative update from CADCA’s Public Policy Consultant Sue Thau. CADCA board member The Honorable Mary Bono, Principal, FaegreBD Consulting (Member of Congress 1998-2013) also provided remarks.

Participants at the opening plenary included

·         Congresswoman Susan Brooks (R-Ind.)

·         Congressman Paul Tonko (D-NY)

·         Congressman Bob Dold (R-Ill.)

·         Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.)

·         Congressman Evan Jenkins (R-WV)

Following the plenary and rally, participants headed up to Capitol Hill for a reception in the Hart Senate Office Building that featured remarks from senators Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Edward John Markey (D-Mass.) as well as Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.)

Thania Balcorta, a program manager for the Eden Youth and Family Center in Hayward, Calif., organized coalition members in state to visit Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s office on Capitol Hill Day.

“We look forward to continuing our conversation regarding implementation of effective strategies to ensure our local actions are complemented with federal initiatives. We have some lofty goals and we must work together to create a healthier California,” she said.

Nearly 400 youth also attended the meeting to take part in CADCA’s National Youth Leadership Initiative (NYLI), where youth learn how to become substance abuse prevention advocates and powerful community leaders. Many of them were also able to visit their Members of Congress and Senators on Capitol Hill. CADCA also honored coalition leader Ananth Ghosh from Michigan as its Outstanding Youth Leader.

This week, several people also received awards:

National Newsmaker Award

Kimberly Leonard

U.S. News & World Report

Coalition of the Year Award

Hernando County Community Anti-Drug Coalition (Florida)

Coalition in Focus Award

Healthy Communities that Care of Livingston County (New York)

Advocates of the Year awards

Stephanie Armbrister Strutner

Allies for Substance Abuse Prevention, Tennessee

Donna Foisy

Bucks Promise for Youth and Communities Consortium and Council Rock Coalition for Healthy Youth, Pennsylvania

Dose of Prevention Award

Shelby County Drug Free Coalition in Shelbyville, Ind.

Outstanding State Member Award

Idaho’s Office of Drug Policy

Congressional Leadership Awards

Congresswoman Susan Brooks (R-5th/Ind.) Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-1st/Neb.) Congressman Paul Tonko (D-20th/NY) Senator Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) 

Outstanding National Coalition Academy Instructor awards

Teresa Bishop, Dave Shavel, and Michael Browning 

National Coalition Academy Chairman’s Award

Arlington Youth Health and Safety Coalition in Arlington, Mass.

Today, CADCA bestowed its highest award honor, the National Leadership Award, to Congressman Hal Rogers (R-KY). Chairman Rogers received the award in recognition of the significant contributions he has made to the field of substance abuse prevention and long-standing support of community-based drug prevention.

“From the time that his state of Kentucky was one of the hardest hit by the opioid epidemic, to today, Congressman Rogers has had a Monumental Impact on our field,” said Gen. Arthur T. Dean, CADCA Chairman and CEO. “He truly understands the value of community-based efforts, but also has led the way to bring national leaders together to discuss solutions.”

Rogers accepted the award in person in front of a standing ovation.

“Over the years, we’ve gained invaluable insight regarding the disease of addiction, and what it takes to truly save lives and stop the cycle of abuse. However, there is nothing more powerful than the holistic approach — bringing together professionals and community members from law enforcement, to treatment, and education to raise awareness and effect the change so desperately needed to transform the way we think about and address substance abuse,” Rogers said. “I am honored to accept CADCA’s National Leadership Award and I applaud our community coalitions across the country that continue the grassroots efforts to prevent abuse and to reach out to those who are determined to overcome addiction."

Attendees from all 50 states and several countries and territories including first –timers from Taiwan and the Marshall Islands. First-time attendee Nelson Ramirez attended the Forum to learn more about how to obtain funding for his coalition. A large delegation from the Hawaiian Islands also attended. But, for some coalition members, attending “CADCA” is an annual tradition and is a testament to her that prevention works.

Karra Thomas, a manager with the Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority in Detroit, is part of a network in her city that includes 13 coalitions, said, “Each year, I look forward to this phenomenal CADCA National Leadership Forum. This conference is one of the highlights of true Prevention! From the POWER of the MOVEMENT...We have been on a MISSION and have a total of 10 attending such as coalitions, programs and Board Members from Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority here to make an IMPACT! 

Download the “I attended” news release template and let your community media know you are proud to be attending CADCA’s Forum.

For more information about CADCA’s National Leadership Forum, visit forum.cadca.org.

To view pictures from the Forum, see CADCA's Facebook page.