Putting Together an Opioid Conference

The National Family Preservation Network (NFPN) helped coordinate a conference on opioids on May 3. There is no more vital topic of discussion right now–here are some suggestions for putting together a conference on opioids:

  1. Collaborate with a wide variety of agencies. The opioid issue involves a broad spectrum of agencies.  Our conference collaborative included family treatment court (drug court), a state child welfare agency, a county child welfare agency, treatment providers, and national organizations.
  2. Select a keynote speaker with vast knowledge of opioids at the national, state, and local level. It’s critical for participants to have information that includes extent of use, how opioids work, the high rate of overdose and available overdose reversal measures, and best practice in treatment.
  3. Provide training on interventions. Start first with addressing differences in perception and approach of the workforce such as child welfare social workers compared to drug treatment providers. Parenting capacity is critical in addressing substance use of parents.  Therapeutic interventions (Motivational Interviewing, TF-CBT, etc.) require intensive training so provide introductory overviews.  More basic interventions that can be quickly learned and applied include Trauma Systems Therapy and Mental Health First Aid.
  4. Family treatment/drug courts are highly effective and an essential component of addressing the opioid epidemic. A drug court judge and drug court graduate are valuable and highly valued speakers at an opioid conference.
  5. Don’t overlook the informal support system. Opioid users need a lot of support from family and other informal support systems such as churches, AA, Narcotics Anonymous, etc.  At our conference the mother of a drug court graduate shared how she supported her daughter in overcoming substance use.  The mother received a standing ovation from participants.

Here are some lessons learned from the opioid conference:

  1. Participants loved the variety of presenters and topics.
  2. The one-day conference was too short for the amount of material presented so plan follow-up training.
  3. The PowerPoint presentations and supplemental materials can be put on a flash drive for easy access and additional training.
  4. On the evaluation forms, ask participants 3 things they learned and 1 way they will change practice after the conference = priceless feedback.
  5. The conference received the highest ratings by participants of any that NFPN has been involved in. There’s a big interest in opioids!

Here are additional resources:

NFPN offers a video training on substance use.  Pricing starts at $275.

NFPN has trainers (board members) with expertise in parenting capacity and skills, motivational interviewing, trauma treatment, and depression.

For all questions and more information about resources, training, and putting together an opioid conference, please contact Priscilla Martens, NFPN Executive Director, director@nfpn.org, phone 888-498-9047.


To view “10 Things I learned at the Opioid Conference,” visit the Preserving Families Blog at https://preservingfamiliesblog.wordpress.com/2018/05/22/10-things-i-learned-at-the-opioid-conference/


Posted by Priscilla Martens, NFPN Executive Director

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