Treating addiciton as a disease

Cooley holds symposium on impact of heroin epidemic

WMU-Cooley Law School's Auburn Hills campus hosted the symposium, "Silence Equals Death: How the Heroin Epidemic is Driving Change in Perception, Treatment, & the Law" on Jan. 30, The program explored the new recovery advocacy movement, how the heroin epidemic is fueling its growth and effectiveness, and the resulting changes in public perception, policy, and the law.

The symposium featured a screening of the documentary film, The Anonymous People, followed by a panel discussion moderated by WMU-Cooley Professor Lauren Rousseau. Panelists discussed how changes in perception regarding addiction have increased demands for public and legislative policy to recognize addiction as a disease and to ensure treatment availability.

"Audience response to this event was amazing and far exceeded my expectations," said Rousseau. "I was concerned that the event - scheduled for three hours - was too long, but participants were engaged and kept asking questions for a half hour."

The event was well attended by nearly 150 individuals, including law students, legal professionals, college students, addiction treatment professionals and advocates, those who have lost children, family and friends to the disease, and individuals in recovery from addiction.

Following the symposium, Lisa Sellinger, an attendee, praised Rousseau for coordinating the event. She said, "Thank you for speaking up, for doing what many are afraid or unable to do and for inviting the public to this timely and important presentation. It was inspiring, informative and extremely helpful."

Symposium panelists included the Hon. Jodi Debbrecht Switalski, of the 51st District Court and co-founder of the Regional Anti-Drug Education and Outreach organization; Andre Johnson, president and CEO of the Detroit Recovery Project; Erica Clute-Cubbin, business development and contract management specialist for Meridian Health Services and southeast Oakland region president for the Alliance of Coalitions for Healthy Communities (ACHC)/Families Against Narcotics (FAN); and the Hon. John S. Gilbreath, hearings bureau judge for the city of Lansing, retired administrative law judge for the state of Michigan, and former chairperson of the State Bar of Michigan's Lawyers and Judges Assistance Committee.

Published: Mon, Feb 09, 2015