2021 Opioid Response Symposium


The Third Annual Opioid Response Symposium will address the many facets of opioid response in the District. This free virtual symposium will bring together clinicians, researchers, peer recovery coaches and students with a vested interest in improving the city’s opioid epidemic. Register today to attend this targeted event designed for community- and hospital-based providers in the District who assist or are involved in treating opioid use disorders (OUD). Speakers and panelists will discuss: 

  • Opioids in the District: Trends, Testing and Composition
  • Stigma Kills: Addressing Opioid Use Disorder by Changing Culture
  • Intersection of Addiction Treatment and Behavioral Health
  • Clinical Perspectives: Alternatives to Opioids for Pain Management
  • Peer Perspective: Addressing Common Barriers
  • Clinical Leadership in the Opioid Epidemic: Strategies for Improving Treatment and Reducing Overdoses
DCHA is requesting 6.0 CE credits for physicians, nurses, social workers and pharmacists.

Register Now


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2020 Opioid Response Symposium

Tuesday, April 27

Opioids in the District: Trends, Testing and Composition 

In this session, experts from DC Health and the Department of Forensic Sciences will discuss opioid trends, testing, and composition in the District. The speakers will estimate the scope of the District’s opioid epidemic evidenced by data on overdoses, hospital transports, Narcan administration, and deaths, recognize key demographics of individuals who have overdosed on opioids, describe trends in opioid composition, including fentanyl levels, and outline methods the District uses for overdose and opioid surveillance.

Presenters: Kenan Zamore, MPH, Senior Research Epidemiologist, District of Columbia Department of Health; Jenifer Smith, PhD, Director of the Department of Forensic Sciences; Luke Short, PhD, Chemistry Section Chief, DC Public Health Laboratory, Department of Forensic Sciences

Stigma Kills: Addressing Opioid Use Disorder by Changing Culture

The drug use epidemic continues to worsen in the setting of the Covid-19 pandemic. More than 81,000 people in the United States died of drug overdoses in the 12-month period ending May 2020, the largest annual increase ever recorded and the majority related to opioids. Stigma of people with substance use disorder is widespread and directly results in numerous barriers that result in less than 20% of people with addiction being able to access treatment. This webinar will provide a deep dive into stigma, how it permeates into healthcare, and how one team in Texas worked to change the minds and organizational culture in a quest to improve care.


Presenter: Richard Bottner, DHA, PA-C, Director, Support Hospital Opioid Use Treatment (SHOUT) Texas, Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin

Wednesday, April 28

Intersection of Addiction Treatment and Behavioral Health

Chronic pain, behavioral health disorders and opioid use disorder frequently co-occur and often place people at higher risk for relapse and suicide. Leveraging every opportunity to identify and support people at risk for these challenges is, therefore, critical. This panel will discuss tools like patient education, behavioral health and social determinants of health screenings, provider direction, and informed decision-making to improve care for these patients. Panelists will also speak to these tools in the context of prescribing opioids for chronic pain and discuss effective solutions to managing pain and the opioid epidemic.

The panel will further address creative solutions to addressing the unique challenges facing caregivers, as well as how COVID-19 has affected and exacerbated chronic pain, substance use, and behavioral health needs. Together, the expertise shared by our panelists will shed light on innovative strategies to achieve optimal patient care and outcomes.

Presenters: Morgan Medlock, MD, MDiv, MPH, Director, Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program (CPEP), DC Department of Behavioral Health; Shanique Cartwright, MD, Chair and Medical Director, Department of Psychiatry, United Medical Center; Erica Richards, MD, PhD, Chair and Medical Director, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health, Sibley Memorial Hospital; Partam Manalai, MD, Associate Medical Director, Psychiatric Institute of Washington (not pictured); James Petit, MD, Addiction Medicine Fellow, Howard University Hospital


Clinical Perspectives: Alternatives to Opioids for Pain Management

This session will discuss the impact of social determinants of health on the opioid use/substance use disorder population and the use of alternatives to opioids for pain management for individuals with OUD/SUD and chronic pain.  Two providers will discuss their experience as clinicians in this space, offer guidance on best practices, and discuss the future of opioid addiction treatment and pain management from the clinical perspective.

Presenters: Gregory Khan-Arthur, DO, Service Chief, Pain Management, and Regional Physician Lead, Opioid Management & Comprehensive Pain Programming, Permanente Medicine; Palak Turakhia, MD, MPH, Co-Division Chief in Pain Medicine, George Washington University Hospital

Thursday, April 29

Peer Perspectives: Addressing Common Barriers 

In this session, you will hear from several peer recovery coaches (PRCs) participating in the hospital-based Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment/Medication for Addiction Treatment (SBIRT/MAT) program, which aims to identify patients at risk for substance use disorder or overdose. Hear from the PRCs on how they use evidence-based tools to motivate patients to reduce or eliminate risky alcohol and drug use by accepting referrals for specialized assessment and treatment services.  The panel will address current barriers in their work and how providers are key supporters of identifying solutions. The panel will discuss what PRCs need for their own recovery and how hospitals can support their journey.


Presenters: Gail Avent, Executive Director & Founder, Total Family Care Coalition, Peer Recovery Coaches from DC Hospitals (not pictured)


Clinical Leadership in the Opioid Epidemic: Strategies for Improving Treatment and Reducing Overdoses

This session will give an overview of America’s opioid and drug overdose epidemic and the physician response, with particular attention to the roles trauma and health equity play in the epidemic. The speaker will discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in overdoses and deaths, and how existing health disparities affect diagnosis and treatment. The speaker will share evidence-based recommendations medical leaders, policymakers and key stakeholders can implement to save and improve lives.


Presenter: Patrice A. Harris, MD, MA, Immediate Past President, American Medical Association