Phoenix House Mid-Atlantic hosted our third Recovery Summit, Calming the Storm: Innovations for Adolescent Substance Use, on March 16 at the Johns Hopkins University Montgomery County Campus. The Summit highlighted new research on the impact of substance use on the teen brain and provided information about innovative, unique, and successful treatment approaches.
Two Keynote Speakers, Dr. Wilson Compton, Deputy Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and Mr. Tom Coderre, Chief of Staff with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration shared their respective government agency’s efforts and research initiatives for effective prevention, treatment, and recovery. Dr. Compton intrigued the audience as he covered topics such as treatment strategies for adolescents, relationship between marijuana use and schizophrenia, and the increasing potency of marijuana over the last several years.
Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford of the State of Maryland also spoke. “Through the Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force, we plan to combat this epidemic with our greatest efforts,” he said. He also praised the work of Phoenix House and other treatment centers in attendance, “That impressive history of compassion and expert care for individuals in need throughout the community is something to be admired.”
The day also included expert trainings and panels, unique and traditional exhibits ranging from treatment centers to fun after-school and weekend programs, and a display of artwork by teen clients at Phoenix House. Special Agents Shane Dana and Baker Doughty of the FBI shared their recently released documentary in partnership with the DEA: “Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict,” which featured Deborah S. Taylor, Senior Vice President and Executive Director of Phoenix House Mid-Atlantic, who also assisted throughout the production process to ensure that addiction and those affected by it were represented with respect and accuracy.
“It is always such an honor to stand in front of a room full of dedicated individuals who continue to promote health and recovery for adolescents,” shared Ms. Taylor. “The Recovery Summit is a great opportunity to bring people together and share the latest and most effective information regarding substance use treatment,” she continued.
Adolescents’ unique needs must be understood in order to provide effective care. This was the common underlying theme of the diverse presentations. Patricia Schneeman, Director of Outpatient Services at Phoenix House Mid-Atlantic and moderator of The Adolescent Ecosystem panel illustrated this clearly, “The adolescent brain is not fully developed. Therefore, when an adolescent uses substances, it makes sense to approach it like a co-occurring disorder.” She explained that an underdeveloped, or impaired, brain presents significant challenges by itself, and when substance use is added, the situation is further compounded and must be approached in a unique manner.
The Summit concluded with a lively interactive training that allowed attendees to learn creative and out-of-the box games and activities to use with teens to help them recognize the value of recovery. Activities promoted teamwork, self-esteem, decision making, and positive association with previously identified triggers. Attendees were given the opportunity to engage in the activities and were inspired to take this information with them to match the unique approaches to adolescents they are currently working with.
Phoenix House Mid-Atlantic has previously hosted Recovery Summits targeting specialized areas such as the opioid epidemic and the impact of substance use on service members and first responders living with PTSD and traumatic brain injuries. With each offering, the Recovery Summit continues to reach larger audiences, share expert information, and promote networking of services to better provide care for those who need it. Every day, our programs help hundreds of people struggling with substance use disorders. Phoenix House Mid-Atlantic operates 21 programs in the Metro D.C. area to meet the varied treatment needs of adults, adolescents, and mothers with children.