Monday, July 13, 2009

News from the NYSPA Division on Addictions July 2009

Dear Colleagues:

I have attached and copied below the July 2009 Newsletter of the Addiction Division of the New York State Psychological Association of which I am a member of the executive board. The Division has been in existence for about 20 years. Over this time we have been a home for psychologists working with problematic substance use and other addictive problems. We have also been committed to creating contexts for ongoing dialogue and exploration to advance the understanding and treatment of people with addictive problems. We have done this by holding regular professional conferences, workshops and other activites. Past conferences have looked at the the state of the art of addiction treatment at various points in time, the relationship between trauma and addiction, the intersection of harm reduction and abstinence based treatments and addiction treatment being in a period of ongoing metamorphosis, among others. We are currently considering how to best create a conference to explore how political issues such as race, class and the stigmatization of substance users impact on substance using patients and their treatment.

We welcome the participation of all workers who have an interest in the issues we address. We invite participation in our conferences, member listserve and newsletters. The Newletterwill give you a more of a sense of what we are about. I invite you to join us in our activites and contribute to the evolution of this important field. Contact information is at the end of the newsletter. Feel free to be in touch.

Andrew Tatarsky, PhD


Page 1 of the NYSPA Divison on Addictions - July 09 Newsletter

Letter from the President
Gayna Havens, PhD

I’m very pleased and honored to be serving as the current president of the Addiction Division of NYSPA. And I want to thank our past president, Bryan Fallon, PhD, for the wonderful and steady work he did during the past year. Among other things, his leadership allowed us to put together another well-attended conference this past November, which explored the interplay between trauma and addiction. We already have several exciting ideas for our next conference, and are in the early planning stages. We will keep you informed when a date is established for the next conference.

With the change of the administration at the national level, we have noticed some excitement about what this may bring to the field of working with individuals with addictions. Andrew Tatarsky, PhD, took a characteristically active role and drafted a letter to President Obama urging him to appoint a Drug Czar that has a record of supporting legislation that advocates treatment innovation and sentencing reform. Dr. Tatarsky’s letter received significant circulation and recognition. Gil Kerlikowske , the Police Chief of
Seattle, was confirmed as the new drug czar. Mr. Kerlikowske is known as someone who allows needle exchange programs and supports drug treatment for low-level offenders as an alternative to prison. And more recently, President Obama named Thomas McLellan, PhD, to the post of Deputy Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Dr. McLellan is a prominent researcher who is expected to bring this important voice to the dialogue. (Division members may remember that Dr. McLellan was the invited speaker at our 2006 conference.)

Dr. Tatarsky has also spearheaded the circulation of a letter to President Obama regarding the choice of a director of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). We have included the letter in this issue of our Newsletter in an effort to spark discussion, debate and action.

There have also been recent changes in our own state of New York. The legislative leaders in Albany recently announced that they had reached an agreement to repeal the mandatory sentencing laws, or the Rockefeller laws, for low-level drug offenders. This would allow judges the discretion to send people to treatment instead of prison when the situation warrants this course of action. The plan still needs to be approved by the Assembly and the Senate, but is expected to allow judges to send first-time nonviolent offenders who plead guilty to drug charges to treatment. If treatment were not successfully completed, the judge would then have the option of imposing a prison sentence.

Click here for entire newsletter PDF

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