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Allegheny Health Network to Host Second Annual Conference on Improving Response to Individuals with Substance Use Disorders

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

National experts and AHN addiction medicine specialists will convene at Allegheny General Hospital for a one-day conference, “Drug User Health: Intersection of Law, Politics and Medicine”

PITTSBURGH (Nov. 6, 2018) – While the opioid crisis has afflicted in some way nearly every community across the U.S., social stigma associated with drug addiction remains widespread. Allegheny Health Network (AHN) aims to dispel this stigma and its impact on law, politics and medicine, and to encourage health care providers to identify new ways to provide high-quality, compassionate care to individuals with substance use disorders.

On Thursday, November 8 at Allegheny General Hospital, AHN’s Center for Inclusion Health will present, “Drug User Health: Intersection of Law, Politics and Medicine.” Intended for both health care providers and community members, this one-day conference will feature a number of local and national thought leaders in addiction, covering topics such as ‘the effects of stigma in healthcare,’ ‘how heroin users became despised patients,’ and more. Some of the speakers include: 

  • Sharon Stancliff, MD, FASAM
    Medical Consultant for the New York State Department of Health, AIDS Institute and former Medical Director of Harm Reduction Coalition; New York, NY
  • Caroline Jean Acker, PhD
    Professor Emerita of History, Carnegie Mellon University and Co-founder, Prevention Point Pittsburgh; Pittsburgh, PA
  • Mark Kinzly
    Co-founder, Texas Overdose Naloxone Initiative (TONI); Austin, TX
  • Patricia Sully
    Policy and Legal Services Director, Public Defender Association; Seattle, WA

“From battling serious health conditions related to drug use, to the lack of access to effective addiction treatments, individuals with opioid use disorder can often face a gamut of challenges in their recovery journey,” said Mitchell West, DO, Director, AHN Addiction Medicine.

“We are pleased to host this conference which seeks to cultivate a better understanding about addiction, and to encourage removal of the many barriers in our society that prevent these individuals from realizing happier, healthier lives.” 

In 2017, more than 72,000 Americans died from drug overdoses, including illicit drugs and prescription opioids, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

AHN has taken a multi-pronged approach to meeting the needs of those with opioid use disorder in Western Pennsylvania. Some of the Network’s initiatives include the Center of Excellence for Opioid Use Disorder, Perinatal Hope/Growing Hope programs in Pittsburgh and Erie for addicted mothers, a medical respite program, and an enhanced pain management program.  

AHN recently announced its partnership with Allegheny County, Highmark Health and Gateway Health to open a 45-bed unit at the Kane Community Living Center in McKeesport. The post-acute unit is for patients with medical conditions and co-occurring substance use disorders.

To register for this conference, visit