by Alison Knopf
The crowning glory for many attendees of the American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence (AATOD) is the award banquet. Not only is it a glamorous affair, at which women wear long gowns (if they choose) and glittery jewels, the food sumptuous and live music encouraging people to talk—but it is a chance for people who work hard for 18 months to honor leaders in the field. The sense of unity and good feeling, for a field that is often beleaguered for those in the CEO offices as well as those in the trenches, is worth waiting for.
The banquet was held October 22 at the Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando’s Disney World, the venue for the entire 5-day meeting. The master of ceremonies, AATOD president and executive director Mark Parrino, MPA, presided over the presentations of the awards, which were accompanied by music, cheering, and the clinking of coffee cups as diners who still had room to eat finished their dessert.
Friend of the Field Award
The prestigious Friend of the Field award went to Gilbert Gerra, MD, chief of the drug prevention and health branch of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. This award recognizes contributions to opioid use disorder treatment by an individual whose work is not directly related to treatment, but has a significant impact on the field.
The Nyswander/Dole “Marie” awards went to individuals whose lives have been devoted to improving the lives of patients. The first recipients of the award were Vincent Dole, MD and Marie Nyswander, MD in 1983. AATOD has bestowed the honor since its first regional conference, held in 1984 in New York City. This year, the “Marie” awards were presented by Icro Maremmani, MD, President, World Federation for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence, NGO, with Special Consultative Status with United Nations Economic and Social Council, Pisa, Italy.
Below are the awards:
Howard Ashkin, MMH
Director of Access Services and Community Engagement
MedMark Treatment Centers
Marc Auriacombe, MD
Team Leader and Medical Director
University of Bordeaux and CH Charles Perrens
John Brooklyn, MD
BAART St. Albans and Howard Center Burlington Vermont
Rochelle Head-Dunham, MD, FAPA
Executive and Medical Director
Metropolitan Human Services Board
Stephen Maulhardt, CPA
Executive VP of Policy Government and Public Affairs
Aegis Treatment Centers, LLC
Tracey Nicolosi, LMHC
VP of Addiction Treatment Services
Lahey Health Behavioral Services
Alan Oberman, MSW
John Brooks Recovery Center
Lauren Siembab, MS, LADC
Opioid Services Coordinator and SOTA
Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services
Patient Advocacy Award
The very special Richard Lane/Robert Holden Patient Advocacy Award went to Zachary Talbott, ICADC, CCS, director of clinical services for ReVIDA Recovery Centers. The award was named after Richard Lane, a long-term heroin user who, upon release from prison in 1967, helped establish one of the country’s first methadone treatment programs. Later Mr. Lane became Executive Director of Man Alive, and went on to serve as Vice President of the American Methadone Treatment Association and as Vice Chairman of the Governor’s Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse in Maryland.
Robert Holden, also a recovering heroin user, later became the Director of PIDARC, an outpatient methadone treatment program in the District of Columbia. Mr. Holden later served as Vice President of AATOD. The Patient Advocacy award was established in 1995.
In his acceptance speech, Mr. Talbott made an impassioned plea for confidentiality and continued protection of all SUD patients under 42 CFR Part 2, which is currently under threat by the federal government and Congress.
The awards banquet is supported through a grant from Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals.