November program to focus on addiction recovery efforts


by Tom Kirvan
Legal News

In the literary and cinematic realms, a sequel seldom lives up to the quality of the original production.

But for WMU-Cooley Law Professor Lauren Rousseau – who spearheaded a highly acclaimed panel discussion last January on “How the Heroin Epidemic is Driving Change in Perception, Treatment, and the Law” – a November 12 conference focusing on addiction recovery challenges figures to be every bit the equal of the initial installment.

“I think this conference is going to be quite spectacular,” Rousseau said of the upcoming program at Cooley Law School’s Auburn Hills campus. “We have nationally recognized speakers coming in from outside of Michigan, as well as some very prominent speakers from Michigan.

“I am working to organize this with Scott Masi, outreach and referral specialist at Brighton Center for Recovery, and Ivana Grahovac, who is the executive director of an organization called Transforming Youth Recovery, which is based in Nevada. Ivana has a national presence – she recently spoke at the White House before the Office of National Drug Control Policy, as well as before 25,000 people at the Unite to Face Addiction rally that was held in Washington, D.C. on October 4th.”

The conference is entitled, “Paradigm Shift: Changing Law and Education to Better Support Addiction Re-
covery,” and will take place on Thursday, Nov. 12, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Cooley’s campus in Auburn Hills. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door, and MCBAP (Michigan Certification Board of Addiction Professionals) credits will be available. To register and/or sponsor the event, go to and type “Paradigm Shift” in the search bar.

“This unique conference will focus on improving addiction recovery support within our criminal justice and educational systems,” said Rousseau, a University of Michigan Law School grad who teaches civil procedure at Cooley. “The conference will feature many high-profile speakers, including Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein; Craig DeRoche, former speaker of the House of Representatives and executive director of the Justice Fellowship in Washington, D.C.; and Michael Johnson, founder of Justice/Quade Recovery Institute.”

Others scheduled to speak include: Patrick Corbett, assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan; Ljubisa Dragovic, Oakland County medical examiner; Judge Linda Davis of the 41B Sobriety Court and founder of Families Against Narcotics (FAN); Kristen Harper, executive director of Association of Recovery Schools; Deborah Garrett, communications director for REAL Michigan; Matt Statman, of the University of Michigan Collegiate Recovery; as well as Grahovac, Masi, and Rousseau.

Panel discussion participants will be Ariel Britt, Carly Keyes, Elvon Lathon, and Bill McDermott.

Last January’s 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,” according to Rousseau. The symposium included a screening of the documentary film, “The Anonymous People,” followed by a panel discussion.

“Audience response to the event was amazing and far exceeded my expectations,” Rousseau said in the wake of the January 30 program. “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.”

Now, as she helps map plans for the conference, Rousseau believes in the continuing need for heightened awareness of how substance abuse problems impact the criminal justice system and society at large.
“There is an obvious legal connection given the focus on the criminal justice sys-tem and reform, and this
is a very timely topic, as the Obama administration as well as state government officials are poised to make some type of criminal justice reform in recognition of the failed war on drugs,” Rousseau said.