Speaker: Joshua Nirella
Joshua has been working in the addiction field since 2001 when he began working with Auberle, a local group home for kids. In 2006, Joshua achieved his Master of Organizational Leadership through Geneva College and obtained a leadership position with Discovery House, a national organization offering methadone maintenance treatment. He has been serving as Regional Director with Acadia Healthcare since 2016, where he oversees nine MAT facilities in Western PA and Ohio, serving over 3,000 patients. For over two decades, Joshua has been providing care to thousands of people directly affected by addiction. He has consulted with and taken part in regulation reform with the Department of Health for Pennsylvania and Ohio, MCO’s, hospitals, residential treatment facilities, and prisons. He is the President of PAATOD and was a CARF Surveyor. Joshua is passionate about patient care, leadership principles, and employee engagement and their involvement in an organization’s direction. Joshua is happily married to his “college sweetheart” since 2002, has five children, and is an ordained minister.
In his book, Leadership for the Twenty-First Century, (1991), Joseph C. Rost wrote, “Leadership is a process, not a person.” Over the past three years, the behavioral/addiction healthcare workforce has been severely tested, as staffing shortages and operational challenges have quickly risen to the top. These issues have always been there, but the COVID pandemic only exacerbated these areas to bring them to the surface. This called for leadership to identify solutions overnight while continuing to maintain services and increase market share. It also forced our entire workforce to “do more with less” while providing solutions to the challenges that they faced, oftentimes becoming overwhelmed with that burden. We suddenly began to see Rost’s words start to ring true—groups of people rallied as one to identify, then solve problems. We live in a society that is fixated on elevating a single person as the solution to our problems. From NFL teams to Wall Street, individuals have risen in importance far more than groups of people ever will. However, leadership really isn’t about one individual, but more about the message (i.e., vision/mission) and the process to have that message become central to who we are. In this session, we will discover more about the process of leadership and the importance of focusing on our people, connecting them to the vision/mission to do and become the message we have set out to become.
Speaker: Stephen Hill
Stephen Hill—founder of Speak Sobriety, a young person in recovery, bestselling author, recovery coach, and a fierce attorney advocating for treatment over incarceration—is a renowned national speaker on substance use prevention & mental health awareness with a truly inspiring comeback story that everyone must hear. Stephen has presented in front of thousands of people for over 400 schools, drug-free community coalitions, alliances, and organizations across the country, sharing his cautionary tale of addiction to recovery and beyond, leaving people better educated, feeling hopeful, and motivated to make smart choices and positive change. But before Stephen had these accolades attached to his name, his reputation was filled with negative stigmas—junky, dropout, felon, failure. A once-promising student-athlete barely graduated high school, dropped out of numerous colleges, was arrested several times, misused deadly amounts of drugs for nearly a decade, was in and out of countless treatment programs, lost his friends, and cost his family tremendous emotional and financial hardship. Just when it seemed like there was no hope for Stephen, he finally began his journey from drug & alcohol addiction to recovery when he entered an extended care treatment program on September 30, 2012. After 180 days in treatment when Stephen was able to start thinking clearly, he made a choice to give himself a real second chance at life. Through inner strength, patience, hard work, and support from others, Stephen turned his mess into a message by using both his positive and negative life experiences to live out a meaningful life with passion. Today, Stephen teaches people to be resilient by not only maximizing their strengths, but also taking what most people perceive as a weakness or negative experience and turning it into a life lesson for personal growth. This shift in thinking is how Stephen was able to overcome a severe substance use disorder, work in the field of addiction prevention, treatment and recovery, start his own speaking and coaching company, receive his bachelor’s with honors from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, earn his J.D. from Brooklyn Law School, pass the New York bar exam, publish his memoir A Journey to Recovery which was a #1 New Release in Drug Dependency on Amazon, and live a happy and healthy lifestyle with his friends and family. Some of the personal experiences that Stephen shares are difficult for him to talk about, but he knows it’s worth it if his story helps just one person every time he speaks.
This program begins with an introduction video aimed at knocking down the stigma attached to the disease of addiction, educating the audience on the current drug epidemic, and setting the stage for a powerful, honest and heartfelt story. During interviews with Stephen’s family, it becomes clear he had a great childhood. “No one saw this coming.” Stephen shows his audience, through his life experience, how addiction can unfold, the consequences of substance use, and how stigma contributed to his inability to recover. His storytelling technique allows each individual person to draw conclusions in their own meaningful way as it relates to their own life. Stephen focuses on the progression of his addiction—beginning to end—leaving people with a better understanding of how the choices they make today will affect them, and those around them, for the rest of their lives. The trifecta gateway drugs of nicotine, marijuana and alcohol introduced to Stephen in 8th grade by older peers was just the beginning, eventually leading to self-destructive behaviors, criminal convictions, and a deadly opioid addiction. Stephen directly discusses why it is currently the most dangerous time in history to be using drugs because of fentanyl. He takes you through his dark days in addiction and slowly transitions into sobriety, emphasizing that recovery is possible. The pivotal moment is when Stephen was given a second chance to turn his mess into a message by working in the field of addiction treatment and prevention. In recovery, Stephen gained the confidence to go back to college and eventually law school. He closes with hope and motivation to be kind and understanding, never give up on someone, help others chase their dreams, leads by example, and to live a happy and healthy lifestyle.
Speaker: Dr. Merrill Norton
Dr. Merrill Norton is an EMMY-winning Clinical Associate Professor Emeritus of the University of Georgia College of Pharmacy, with his specialty areas including psychopharmacology and addiction pharmacy. He was most recently honored by the Georgia Addiction Counselors Association’s Board of Directors and Certification Board with being bestowed the first Certified Master Addiction Counselor (CMAC) credential in the state. His book, Understanding Substance Use Disorders Pharmacology, has been used to train thousands of mental health professionals nationally, and his latest book and The Pharmacist’s Guide to Opioid Use Disorders was released in December 2018. Dr. Norton completed his undergraduate and graduate work at the University of Georgia College of Pharmacy. He accomplished a three-year addiction medicine fellowship under the direction of Douglas Talbott, MD at Ridgeview Institute and has state, national, and international credentials in the treatment of mentally ill/addicted/chronic pain individuals. He has also been a faculty member of the Fairleigh-Dickinson University Postdoctoral Training Program in the Masters of Psychopharmacology, Alliant International University of San Francisco College of Psychology, University of Georgia School of Continuing Education, and Berry College in the areas of Psychopharmacology and Addiction Pharmacy. His areas of specialty in addiction pharmacy are the management of chronic pain in substance use disordered patient and the neuroscience of substance use disorders. Since his recent retirement from UGA, Dr. Norton’s primary focus has been to provide the latest scientific information to communities, educators, healthcare professionals, prevention specialists, treatment providers, and especially families, on the diseases of substance use disorders.
In the treatment of alcohol use disorder (AUD), there are medications that have been approved by the FDA to ease the transition into abstinence. Medications can be used for detoxification, withdrawal, and cravings associated with AUD. When it comes to treating alcohol cravings and deterring individuals from drinking alcohol, medications are an efficacious resource. Currently, less than 10% of patients with AUD receive medications as part of their treatment plan, even though it is an evidence-based treatment recommended by SAMHSA in combination with behavioral interventions. When individuals show an inadequate response to counseling alone, adding medication may be the next step. Anti-craving medications include Naltrexone, Acamprosate, Disulfiram, anticonvulsants (off-label), and herbal preparations.
Speaker: Mansfield Key
Mansfield (Pete) Key III is the leading Growth Development Strategist and International Motivational Speaker. He’s a Life Coach, mentor, consultant, speechwriter, and certified HIV/AIDS Instructor. He holds multiple certifications in grief counseling and 21st Century Leadership. He’s certified in Relationship Smarts, Fatherhood Initiative, Together We Can, and Basic Training for Relationships from the Human Development Department at Auburn University. He has provided technical assistance to the Federal Government’s Health and Human Services for all 50 states and has worked directly with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. He has consulted for the Departments of Education and Public Health in several states. He has also provided presentations for the Juvenile Justice System, Dream Development Center in Johannesburg, South Africa, and Liverpool, England’s Hope Organization. He is the creator of the Lunch with The Keys Program, teaching Character Education to kindergarten through twelfth-grade students. The youth services program, Lunch with The Keys, won the School of Distinction for Florence High School and went on to be awarded the 2019 CLAS Banner for Alabama School District 7. Pete’s Fatherhood program also won the Community Action Head Start Fatherhood Program of the year. He was named Humanitarian of the Year for the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. He’s also a member of the 2016-2017 Class of Leadership Alabama and the 2020 President of the Florence Rotary Club. His speaking engagements include the Ryan White National Conference; Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSA); Alabama Education Association; Alabama Associate of School Boards; and the School Superintendents of Alabama. He has authored three books and released multiple curriculums. Besides his relationship with God, he is most proud of his wife, Sharlene, and two daughters, Erin and Joi. Key believes everyone has something special, but sometimes people need others to help them discover it.
This ed-u-training (educational and entertaining) training session will have its audience participating in lively discussions and engaging activities using music and drama. We want to help them discover sustainable ways to keep the passion for their purpose. Let’s work together to help your team identify what’s draining their emotional and mental battery and determine what is causing their engine to have a slow start and sometimes stall. We will bring the Booster Cables to give them a charge and help create a spark to energize the people around them. Let’s work together to discover ways to relieve their personal and professional stress to their personal and professional best. This session will clearly prepare participants to leave the conference ready to illustrate what it means to make a difference in the lives of others: “Someone’s Destiny is tied to your assignment.”