Oxford Treatment Center trains medical and mental-health professionals

stephen pannell gives slide presentation during a lunch and learn at oxford

July Lunch-and-Learn focuses on medication assisted treatment

More than 80 mental-health and medical professionals gathered at Oxford Treatment Center’s Outpatient Center July 30 to learn from Medical Director Stephen Pannel, D.O. ABPN, ABAM, and Clinical Director Jerri Averi, LCAT, PhD, about advancements in Medication Assisted Treatment.

The lunch and learn event titled “Recovery 101: Breaking the Stigma of Medication Assisted Treatment,” was part of ongoing continuing education programs for mental-health professionals provided at Oxford Treatment Center. The event marked the first time that training was extended to doctors, nurses and other medical providers.

“Covering topics like this can benefit all of us who work in healthcare, even if addiction is not your specialty,” Pannel said. “Addiction is something every healthcare practitioner will encounter. Our goal in hosting an event like this is to help providers better understand the treatment options available to their patients.”

Pannel said an understanding of MAT is critical today, as patients with substance use disorders face withdrawal symptoms that have become more severe.

lunch and learn at oxford treatment center


“Opioid dosage levels are increasing, and along with it, the severity of withdrawal symptoms,” Pannel said. “Opiate withdrawal is different today than it was three years ago and significantly different than 10 years ago.”

During the presentation, Avery said that an approach that combines MAT and therapy offers improved rates of success in treatment.

“MAT is a tool that, combined with therapy, can really improve outcomes for those struggling with opioid and alcohol use disorder,” Avery said.

She said the reason for MAT’s success is that it treats what is, for many, the biggest physical obstacles to overcome in treatment.

“The two main reasons people leave treatment stem from withdrawal and cravings,” Avery said. “MAT treats these physical issues, so that a person can begin receiving the psychological help they need.”

In his presentation, Pannel discussed the history and benefits of MAT in the treatment of opioid and alcohol use disorders, and how to understand the evidence supporting the use of MAT. Avery discussed the role of MAT in the treatment of opioid and alcohol use disorders, and the current FDA-approved medications, common protocols and proper treatment integration techniques.

Kristy McCormic, a representative for Lakeside Behavioral Health System, said the presentation expanded her existing knowledge of MAT.

“There is a common misconception that MAT and therapy are mutually exclusive,” she said after the Lunch-and-Learn. “It was interesting to learn about how more healthcare providers such as Oxford Treatment Center are using a combination of MAT with therapy.”

McCormic said that with a changing healthcare landscape, options like MAT should definitely be on the table.

medical and mental health professionals watch presentation at oxford lunch and learn

“Things like withdrawal symptoms are rapidly changing in the field of addiction,” she said. “We all have to figure out how to adjust. MAT can be an important tool for this. I think the more that we can have opportunities like this to learn how to use MAT, the better outcomes exist for patients.”

Oxford Treatment Center’s next continuing education event will take place Sept. 17. Therapists Reggie Watkins and Laura Merril McCaleb, LCSW, will present Recovery 101: Young Adult Trends in Addiction.

For this event, the center is approved by the Mississippi Board of Examiners for Social Workers and Marriage & Family Therapists and by the NBCC to provide six continuing education credit hours for social workers and counselors. Learn more and register: oxfordtreatment.com/event/sept19ce/.

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