Kansas City Hosts Regional Gambling and Substance Abuse Conference

The 9th Annual Regional Midwest Conference on Problem Gambling & Substance Abuse was recently held in Kansas City on June 6-8, 2012.

The theme “Utilizing Evidence Based Practices” drew more than 200 attendees to the event. The Midwest conference offered attendees information on current trends in the addiction field and the use of best practices in addressing substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health issues including pathological gambling.

The conference featured nationally recognized experts who addressed a number of hot topics such as opioid addiction and treatment, dialectical behavioral therapy, medication assisted treatment, and suicide prevention. Conference attendees of the event included treatment professionals, industry, those in recovery and/or family, and researchers. The conference featured speakers included Mark Parrino, M.P.A., founder and president of the American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence (AATOD).

According to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), poisoning is now the leading cause of death from injuries in the United States and nearly 9 out of 10 poisoning deaths are caused by drugs, outnumbering motor vehicle fatalities. The number of deaths due to natural and semi-synthetic opioid analgesics, which includes morphine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone, account for the majority of these deaths from overdose. Deaths from prescription painkillers have reached epidemic levels in the past decade, according to the CDC.

Other keynote speakers included, Dr. Peter Delany, Director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Dr. Tony Dubose, Director of Training, Dissemination, and Implementation at Behavioral Tech, LLC, and Dr. Ken Winters, Professor, Department of Psychiatry from the University of Minnesota.

Dr. Winters’ presentation focused on the influence of drug use and gambling on youth. Adolescence is a period of profound brain maturation and is not complete until age 25. The adolescent developing brain, in conjunction with numerous social, attitudinal and economic factors, reinforces the potential health concerns of youth-problem gambling and related addictions, particularly drug abuse.

In addition, a session on current trends in synthetic drug use –– including bath salts –– was presented by Bob Welsh, program Mmanager at the Missouri Safety Center-University of Central Missouri. The presentation was very well attended and focused on the local and national problems of these readily available substances and the dangerous impact on the user. Data from poison control reports that in 2011 there were 5,853 calls about MDPV-bath salts versus 303 calls in 2010.

Overall, the conference provided attendees valuable practical information to disseminate into one’s workplace on prevention, treatment, and best practices in the field for those in recovery.

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