It wasn’t a mirage. This week, The Mirage in Las Vegas was home to the largest Mid-Year Training Institute in the non-profit’s history. 2,000 coalition members from around the world convened to build their capacity to address one of our nation’s biggest public health challenges—substance abuse.
The Mid-Year Training Institute offered a week-long, professional development opportunity for coalition leaders. After four days of intensive training, participants will return to their communities with new skills and strategies, and a clearer roadmap to create environments where young people can thrive.
Gen. Arthur T. Dean, CADCA’s Chairman and CEO, addressed coalition leaders several times this week and said that CADCA must continue to end the stigma associated with addiction.
“We must also, first and foremost, keep primary prevention on America’s radar. You are doing that, coalition leaders. You contribute to that monumental impact every day in your own communities. For example, you have identified and addressed this horrible prescription drug and opioid problem long before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called it an epidemic,” Gen. Dean said.
Last week, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act was overwhelmingly passed in both the House and the Senate and signed into law by the President, which was headline news all week in Las Vegas.
“This means that your work will be enhanced with the resources you need to address this dire situation,” he said.
CADCA’s Public Policy Consultant, Sue Thau, trained coalitions in advocacy work throughout the conference.
In addition, Gen. Dean reminded the crowd of the tobacco challenges the field is facing, with e-cigarettes and flavored cigars. There were five training sessions offered through CADCA’s Geographic Health Equity Alliance (GHEA) that addressed tobacco prevention and cancer survivorship.
Coalition leaders from 17 countries—the largest international delegation ever— as well attendees from across the U.S. had 80 training sessions in which to choose from that delved deep into those tobacco and opioid challenges. There were also half-to-whole-day sessions on preventing binge and underage drinking, marijuana legalization, policy, health disparity, gambling, grant writing and more throughout the week.
The Mid-Year also welcomed nearly 200 youth from around the country who participated in CADCA’s youth-led, adult-guided civic engagement training, the National Youth Leadership Initiative, where they learned how to become drug prevention advocates and powerful community leaders.
On Wednesday, the youth also held a mock Las Vegas city council meeting with the “mayor,” played by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services’ Principal Deputy Administrator, Kana Enomoto, where they discussed the adoption of an ordinance that would prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to those younger than 21. That same evening, the Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Michael Botticelli, and DFC Administrator Helen Hernandez, Fran Harding Director, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention and General Arthur T. Dean, Chairman and CEO, CADCA addressed coalition leaders at a town hall meeting in the hotel.
“Addiction doesn’t start with prescription drug abuse or heroin use. It starts with alcohol, tobacco and/or marijuana,” Botticelli said.
Nearly 100 coalition leaders of all ages spent their free time helping others at a shelter for abused women and children called The Shade Tree. New this year was CADCA’s member recognition program. At the CADCA booth, registrants who qualified received a lapel pin noting the number of years in which their coalition had been a CADCA member.
One of the most popular training sessions, “A comprehensive approach to addressing the pills to heroin epidemic,” was facilitated by CADCA trainer Catherine Brunson.
“What are the best strategies we have available with the resources we have? Make sure you have a conversation with everyone who will be impacted by a policy that you are working on and engage them,” Brunson told the engaged audience. “The more strategies we implement, the better.”
CADCA welcomed Dr. Moira O’Neil, Senior Researcher and Director of Interpretation at the Frameworks Institute as the keynote speaker. “Frames are the process for social change,” O’Neil told the packed ballroom.
In addition, participants heard from a number of renown experts in the field of drug use prevention, treatment and research such as:
- Fran Harding, Director, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention;
- Sean Ferns, Chief, Community Outreach, Drug Enforcement Administration;
- Dr. Ralph Hingson, Director of the Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism;
- Dr. David Jernigan, Associate Professor, Department of Health, Behavior and Society and Director, Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health;
- Jason Kilmer, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Assistant Director of Health and Wellness for Alcohol and Other Drug Education, University of Washington;
- Dallas Pettigrew, MSW, Manager of Administrative Operations, Cherokee Nation’s Pediatric Behavioral Health System;
- Robert Saltz, PhD, Senior Research Scientist, Pacific Institute for Research & Evaluation;
- Mark Wolfson, PhD, Professor, Social Sciences & Health Policy, Wake Forest School of Medicine;
- and Brian King, PhD, MPH, the Deputy Director for Research Translation in the Office on Smoking and Health (OSH) within the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Coalition members posted frequently on social media using the training event’s hashtag, #CADCAMidYear, and raved about the variety of topics to keep even a seasoned coalition member engaged.
Roxy Hernandez, a coalition member from Aurora, Colo.’s Aurora Mental Health Center, enjoyed all of her sessions, especially “Coalition 101” and communication strategies ones.
“I gained great insight about social media as a tool in “The Power of Health Communications: Making Your Messages Work for You! with SAMHSA Project Officer, David Wilson,” she said. Hernandez also looked forward to interacting with coalition leaders from other countries, who are all working toward the same goal.
Did you join us today in Las Vegas? Don’t forget to complete your training session evaluations. We want to hear from you! Your feedback helps us develop world-class training events. Use our press release template to assist in getting the word out about your involvement in this record-breaking event. Look for pictures and videos at Facebook.com.