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May 10

Crafting Change on the Road to Recovery

Social determinants of health are the nonmedical factors that influence health outcomes. They are the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age, and shape the conditions of daily life. The experience of substance use or mental illness is different for every individual, and often there is a combination of biological, psychological and social factors contributing to why a person may be struggling with behavioral health conditions. This event aims to deliver a collective of avenues practitioners can “craft” with participants to enhance personalized recovery pathways.

Keynote Speaker: Maia Szalavitz, Award-Winning Neuroscience Author, Journalist & Mental Health Advocate

Session Title: How Harm Reduction Saved My Life



Maia Szalavitz blends personal experience and years of investigative research into an inspiring perspective on addiction. She eloquently makes the case that addicted people need to be understood on their own terms, instead of being further marginalized by constructs that reflect society’s biases. Deeply passionate about rectifying the inequality in drug policy and harm reduction, Maia gives us a tour of her recovery journey. Experiencing the legal system and treatment programs firsthand, she committed to understanding how we can do better as a society to help others who’ve gone down a similar path. Her work has helped the world understand addiction in a whole new way. From "one of the bravest, smartest writers about addiction anywhere" (Johann Hari, New York Times bestselling author), Maia delivers the untold story of harm reduction, a surprisingly simple idea with enormous power.


Learning Objectives:

1.     Create or enhance participants’ definition of harm reduction utilizing firsthand experience of addiction and recovery.

2.     Enlighten participants’ on the roots of harm reduction and how it has evolved to become an effective evidence-based practice.

3.     Explore why addiction persists despite consequences and what this means for policy across the criminal justice system, prevention and treatment systems.


Maia Szalavitz is an award-winning author and journalist who covers addiction and neuroscience. Her most recent book, Undoing Drugs: The Untold Story of Harm Reduction and the Future of Addiction, is the first history of the movement aimed at focusing drug policy on minimizing harms, not highs. Her previous New York Times bestseller, Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction wove together neuroscience and social science with her personal experience of heroin addiction to explore how reframing addiction as a learning disorder can transform prevention, treatment and policy. It won the 2018 media award from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. She writes regularly for The New York Times and has written for numerous other publications including TIME, Wired, Elle, The Nation, Vice, The Guardian and Scientific American.

Plenary Speaker: Donald McDonald, MSW, Technical Expert Lead at JBS International, Inc. & Podcast Host

Session Title: Rethinking Language and Exploring Bias 


The stigma surrounding people who use drugs and people experiencing substance use disorders leads to inhibited help-seeking and discriminatory barriers to life, freedom, and wellness. Inaccurate and stigmatizing language and recovery pathway bias play roles in promoting continued bias against vulnerable people. In this presentation, we will discuss the power of language and the peril of unexplored bias.




Learning Objectives:

1.     Identify inaccurate and stigmatizing language.

2.     Discuss appropriate behavioral health language.

3.     Identify numerous recovery pathway categories.

4.     Examine the role recovery pathway bias plays in barriers to appropriate care.


Donald McDonald is a behavioral health recovery expert dedicated to equity, access, wellness, and freedom for all people at risk of experiencing mental and substance use disorders. He is a person thriving in recovery from severe mental & substance use disorders. Donald’s background includes being a consumer of services, provider of non-clinical & clinical services in multiple settings, health policy advocate, and recovery community leader. Previously, Donald served as the National Field Director of Faces & Voices of Recovery, Director of Advocacy & Education for Recovery Communities of North Carolina, and Executive Director of Addiction Professionals of North Carolina. For the last five years, Donald has directed training and technical assistance nationally for grant-funded communities. In that capacity, he has worked with over 500 rural consortia across the country as they enhance their prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery support services infrastructures in response to substance use and overdose crises (including Mental Health America!)

Additional Sessions (stay tuned more information):

  • The Power of Peer Support (Panel)
  • Courageous Living Unveiled: Embracing Change with Recovery
  • Addicted to Numbing Mental Illness
  • The Power of the Pen: How Language in Documentation can Perpetuate Stigma and Bias in Mental Health Care
  • Addressing the Harms of Xylazine: Implications for Population Health
  • teen Mental Health First Aid (tMHFA): Activating Youth to Banish Stigma and Grow Communities of Wellness
  • Befriend the Mind with Internal Family Systems (IFS) Therapy

6 CEU's available through the State of Ohio Board for Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage and Family Therapists and the Kentucky Board of Social Work. Applications will be submitted to the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board but are not guaranteed.


The cost of this course has been drastically lowered in an attempt to break financial barriers utilizing a Human Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant.

St. Elizabeth Training and Education Center (SETEC)
3861 Olympic Blvd, Erlanger, KY 41018
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May 10, 2024 08:00am ET - May 10, 2024 04:30pm ET

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