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SOS Recovery Community Organization is presenting the 4th annual RICH conference. Northeast’s premier peer-recovery conference. The conference will include nationally recognized keynotes that will present on innovations in peer-based recovery supports and harm reduction with a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. This conference will include nationally recognized keynote speakers and breakouts over 2 days surrounding the theme of the conference.
This conference will attract leaders and advocates within the prevention, treatment, recovery, and harm reduction communities across New England as well as health care providers, clinical staffs, licensed professionals, mental health professionals, agency staff, social service providers, educators, first-responders and local, state and federal policy makers and legislators. The conference will also attract individuals and family members impacted by substance use disorder, people who use drugs, people who identify as sex workers, and allies of the recovery and harm reduction community.
Dr. Sheila P Vakharia is the Deputy Director of Research and Academic Engagement for the Drug Policy Alliance. In this role, she helps DPA staff and others understand a range of drug policy issues. Dr. Vakharia builds relationships with drug researchers and helps to advance policy-relevant research. She also mobilizes researchers in support of DPA policy campaigns and organizes conferences on key issues in drug policy. She is the author of the book, The Harm Reduction Gap: Helping individuals left behind by conventional drug prevention and abstinence-only treatment released in February 2024 by Routledge.
Before joining DPA, Dr. Vakharia was an Assistant Professor of Social Work at Long Island University. She has also worked as a clinical social worker in both abstinence-only and harm reduction settings. Her research interests include harm reduction therapy, drug policy reform, drug stigma, overdose prevention, and social work education. She is on the Board of Directors of Filter magazine. Dr. Vakharia received a Ph.D. in Social Welfare from Florida International University, a Master’s in Social Work from Binghamton University, and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Addictions from New York University.
Stephen Murray is the Harm Reduction Program Manager at Boston Medical Center. His work as an overdose researcher focuses primarily on the role of public safety/public health partnerships in post-overdose response teams. He recently retired as a Lieutenant at a regional ambulance service in Western Massachusetts, and had served as a first responder since 2013, working both as a firefighter and paramedic. He shares his lived experience as a person who used drugs and overdose survivor. Stephen provides expert technical assistance around the topics of overdose prevention, emergency medical services, xylazine, and harm reduction to a variety of organizations, including the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the City of Northampton (MA) , RIZEMA Foundation, Massachusetts Drug Supply Data Stream, Louisiana Department of Public Health, and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. He has guest lectured at Northeastern University, UMASS Medical School, Bennington College, Boston University, and Ohio State University, and has had work published in the American Journal of Public Health and Health Promotion Practice.
Dee-Dee Stout has undergraduate degrees in Business Management, Psychology & Human Sexuality from San Francisco State University (SFSU) where she also earned her Special Major Master’s degree in Health Counseling. Dee-Dee is a member of the international Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (MINT), having received her training in MI in 2000 in part from the developer, William R. Miller, PhD. She is also a founding member of the California Association of Harm Reduction Therapists (CAHRT; www.harmreductiontherapy.com). Dee-Dee is certified in Brainspotting, TFT, iRest, and has received specialized training and/or certification in more than 15 other approaches related to behavior change. Previously, she earned numerous designations in addiction work: LAADAC, CADC-II, MAC, and Gorski’s Relapse Prevention Specialist among others. Dee-Dee chose to not renew those specialty accreditations a decade ago due mainly to their negative stance on harm reduction and few if any options to 12-Step.
Dee-Dee has worked in drug treatment for nearly 40 years. As well as maintaining a private practice (which she’s had for more than 30 years) working with individuals, couples, and families, she regularly trains other behavioral health professionals in evidence-based, client-centered approaches and outcome informed work. As someone with a long history of addiction, traditional recovery, chronic pain, & numerous (mostly incorrect) psychiatric diagnoses including PTSD, Dee-Dee has recently added “autistic” to her descriptions. What happens next, Dee-Dee continues to advocate for people who use drugs & their families and chronic pain patients with her wicked sense of humor.
Dee-Dee is currently Adjunct Associate Professor at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, CA, in the Graduate Counseling Psychology department. Teaching college for more than 30 years at several Bay Area colleges and universities has been a calling for Dee-Dee. She has also made many public appearances as an invited speaker at conferences (including internationally) and been interviewed on television, radio, in film, podcasts, & print, discussing treatment, harm reduction, trauma-informed care, family coaching, and more. Dee-Dee has also contributed to various best-selling books on addiction as well as to scholarly papers on treatment issues including trauma.
Finally, Dee-Dee’s ground-breaking book, “Coming to Harm Reduction Kicking & Screaming: Looking for Harm Reduction in a 12-Step World,” is widely available and has received numerous positive reviews. Currently, she is working on a second edition of her original book with the writer, Joe Clifford, (author of “Junkie Love”) due to be released in late Spring/early Summer 2024.
More Speakers will be announced soon!.