NIDA international professionals visit Betty Ford Center

Relationships do matter. This past week, the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage reaped the benefit of connections forged several years ago.

Over the past decade, Joseph Skrajewski, executive director of Medical and Professional Education, has collaborated on several projects with Dr. Rick Rawson, an international leader in the addiction treatment field and former member of the executive council of the Betty Ford Institute. About five years ago, Joseph and Dr. Rawson co-facilitated an international addiction symposium held in Valencia, Spain. On Monday, June 13, their partnership led to a visit to the Center by professionals from around the world.

Sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), more than 57 medical professionals from 32 different countries attended a three-hour session at the Betty Ford Center. For the members of the group, the visit culminated three days of an intensive learning experience about how addiction treatment organizations in the U.S. are addressing heroin and opioid addiction.

"This visit was the 'cherry on top' for the many participants in the group," said Joseph. "It was an excellent opportunity for us to showcase best practices in addiction treatment, and the feedback from the group was very positive."

Held in the Riley Auditorium in Firestone Hall, the program began with a welcome and presentation by Jim Steinhagen, vice president of the West Region and administrator of the Betty Ford Center, titled "Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation: A Unified System of Care." Jim was then joined on stage for a question-and-answer panel discussion with Joseph Skrajewski and Dr. Steve Eickelberg, medical director of the Betty Ford Center. Much of the panel discussion focused on the Comprehensive Opioid Response with Twelve Steps (COR-12™) program. Following the program, tours of the facility were coordinated by Pat Riley, marketing director; Robert Lien, manager of Care Navigation; and Joan Clark, Alumni Relations/communications coordinator.

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