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Discussions at vibrant SECAD conference reflect hope for future

February 25, 2010
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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Attendees work to overcome tough economy and policy frustration

While pressure on privately funded treatment centers and frustration over a lack of progress on health reform clearly have taken a toll on the addiction field’s collective psyche, attendees at this week’s SECAD ’10 conference appeared undeterred by recent setbacks.

In what arguably was one of the most vibrant clinically focused meetings in years, more than 600 participants eagerly jumped into learning about opportunities ranging from science-based analysis of treatment interventions to treatment of families affected by sex addiction.

Bookending the conference material were keynote presentations in which two prominent leaders called for a recovery-focused treatment approach and a blend of today’s science and traditional 12-Step philosophy. David Mee-Lee, MD, senior vice president of The Change Companies, assumed a familiar role of challenging attendees not to force clients into rigid treatment models that emphasize symptom control over long-term wellness. Internationally known clinical trainer Cardwell C. Nuckols, PhD, reminded his audience that current research in neuroscience doesn’t supplant the spiritually based approach of 12-Step treatment, but rather confirms much of that tradition.

Although several attendees and exhibitors remarked on recent struggles in which even facilities that attract the highest-income clients have seen an erosion in census, the diverse SECAD curriculum clearly helped attract an enrollment increase and a full exhibit hall for this year’s meeting in Nashville, Tenn. Technology and drug testing firms both had a strong presence among exhibitors, and many attendees appeared open to topics not always prominent at clinical addiction conferences, from restructuring outpatient care to defining the needs of men in treatment.

One attendee even remarked to conference organizers that more sessions on sex addiction should be scheduled, reflecting a departure from purely a substance use focus. Renowned author Claudia Black, PhD, presented a keynote address that outlined strategies for working with partners of individuals with sex addiction.

Black also was one of two 2010 inductees into the prestigious Conway Hunter Society that honors the founding principles behind SECAD, as part of an award ceremony that also featured honors sponsored by Addiction Professional and Behavioral Healthcare magazines. SECAD was produced by Vendome Group, publisher of the magazines.

Visit www.addictionpro.com for a roundup of content from conference proceedings, as well as slide presentations from the meeting.

The SECAD meeting will merge into a larger national conference that will debut in the Washington, D.C. area this September. The National Conference on Addiction Disorders (NCAD), to be held Sept. 8-11, will also incorporate the annual meeting of NAADAC, The Association for Addiction Professionals, and thus will bring together input from NAADAC and the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP). For more information, visit www.NCAD10.com.

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