Appalachian Addiction & Prescription Drug Abuse Conference

This week, a diverse group of professionals in the field of addiction gathered at the Marriott in Morgantown, WV.  I began working with Dr. Brad Hall and his team a few years ago when this conference was getting bigger, and now over 500 providers, peer coaches, and others gather in the fall.  The participants learn from the best. This issue has hit this country hard, but Appalachia and West Virginia have been hit particularly hard.  We are learning more and more about addiction, how it affects people, and how to treat it.  Over the next few weeks, people who missed the conference will be able to hear from some of these experts as I interviewed them on the Appalachian Health Podcast. 

Over 500 participants listened to experts in the field of addiction and treatment.

Addiction is a health condition with a nasty reputation.  The stigma of addiction hurts.  It hits hard. It makes life difficult for the patients suffering from this disease.  At the conference Ken Rodenbaugh, a practicing nurse, told his powerful story about the stigma of addiction.  Later in the evening, Dr. Alisa Duran talked about the vulnerability of personal stories.  Being a professional and a person in recovery can be difficult.  I interviewed them together about their stories. 

The Mountain State was  blessed to have the experts discussing treatment options.  I interviewed Dr. Marvin Seppala, Chief Medical Officer of the Hazelden Betty Ford about MAT & 12-Step Programs for treatment of addiction, and Dr. Jeannie Sperry, Co-Chair of the Division of Addictions at the Mayo Clinic, about the use of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in the treatment of pain & addiction.  

Kelly Lemon, a nurse practitioner and nurse midwife from WVU Medicine gave a timely talk on Addiction, Pregnancy, and Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome.  Kelly and I sat down for a few minutes before her presentation to discuss these issues and how they are affecting the West Virginia.  With the WV Legislature legalizing cannabis for medical use a couple years ago, Dr. Libby Stuyt, a psychiatrist from Colorado gave some great information in her talk about Fact & Fiction in marijuana and CBD.  Dr. Stuyt and I discussed her views on cannabis as well as her expertise on auricular acupuncture.  

You can hear my interviews with all of these people in the coming weeks on the Appalachian Health Podcast.  There were many others at the conference including WVU Health Sciences Dean Dr. Clay Marsh and the President of WVU E. Gordon Gee.  Other experts in the field were there, however I didn’t have time to interview them all.  I felt honored to get a few moments to talk about one of the most important health issues with some of the worlds best.  

Addiction is a disease.  It’s difficult to understand. Stigma gets in the way of people getting the treatment they need.  The professionals at this conference provided an education on the most current treatment options as well as other topics in the field. 

Published by Danny Scalise

Danny Franklin Scalise, II is the Executive Director and Chief Lobbyist of the West Virginia State Medical Association and its subsidiary organizations as well as a professor of Health Policy at the West Virginia University School of Public Health. He is considered one of the leading health policy experts in West Virginia and is a passionate advocate for public health. Scalise has been a public policy adviser to two Governors. He is well known across West Virginia as a problem solver and a great student of West Virginia politics & the legislative process. As part of the Manchin administration, Danny was the Recovery Czar in West Virginia managing $1.8 billion in grants and entitlement funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
 Danny earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management from West Virginia University Institute of Technology in 2002, his Master of Business Administration from West Virginia University in 2005, and his Master of Public Health degree in Health Policy in 2018. In 2016 he became Certified in Public Health by the National Board of Public Health Examiners. He has been published on and regularly speaks on issues of public health, health policy, and local health department governance & organizational structure. Danny sits on the Board of Directors for the Thomas Health System in South Charleston, WV and in 2019 Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin appointed him to serve on the Kanawha-Charleston Board of Health which governs the largest and first PHAB Accredited Health Department in West Virginia. 
 Danny has been recognized by Opportunity Nation in 2013 as part of their national Opportunity Leaders & Scholars program and was awarded the “Health Administration Rising Star” by the American Public Health Association in 2016. He is a 2012 Leadership West Virginia graduate, was on the State Journal’s 2016 Generation Next: 40 under 40 list, was named a 2019 Young Gun by West Virginia Executive Magazine, and was given the 2019 Advocacy Award by the West Virginia Immunization Network for his work to protect West Virginia’s childhood immunization laws. Since joining in 2007, Danny has been an active participant in Mensa.

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