A Word From SSN President, Sy Demsky

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

I’m encouraged to report that Stop Stigma Now (SSN) has continued to thrive and grow over the last 12 months despite the continued challenges we have all faced. Life teaches us that as bad as the pandemic is we will overcome. With that said, we SSN, our board, permanent members, and our advisory board continue to support our patients and the field.
SSN has much to be grateful for this past year. We have a board of 22 hard-working members. We have added 11 associate members as a new category to support our work. SSN continues to meet every two weeks with an average of 25 to 30 people in attendance. How lucky we are for the dedication of these members! Keep in mind that we are a completely volunteer group with no paid staff and limited funds, so we do need your financial support.
A review of our accomplishments in 2020 and thus far in 2021: 
  •     Professionalized Zoom meetings   
  •     Created second vice president position- Joe Lunievicz
  •     Added eight additional permanent members
  •     Had five national guest speakers
  •     Opened meetings to all guests
  •     Updated all literature and materials
  •     National study on MAT and COVID-19 to be presented at AATOD Conference in April
  •     Developing a sound registry system that will effectively operate at the state, regional and national level and maximize patient confidentiality to be presented at the AATOD Conference 
  •     Review of medical schools/addiction education
      FINANCIAL: Successful breakfast fundraiser on Dec 6th, 2020; 120 guests attended a first-time virtual fundraiser/ 
      CONFERENCES: SSN will be attending three virtual conferences. AATOD in April and two court conferences in May and August.
      WEBSITE:  Finalizing a new professional website. Please check it out:
      NEWSLETTER: 5th Edition - A select review of some major articles. Distribution to over 3,000 people.
      POLICY: The Policy Department continues to connect us to national organizations for our participation.
      SPEAKERS BUREAU: The Speakers Bureau offers free lectures on both stigma and medication-assisted treatment. Please email Dan McGill ( or Val Bonilla ( to schedule a presentation.
Our goals for 2021 continue to be supportive to programs and their patients. All of our materials are FREE! That includes brochures, stigma buttons, etc. Please Help Us Help You and the patients. Go to our website, DONATE, and join us.
Take Care,
Sy Demsky, President

From the Co-Editors: Robert Sage, Ph.D. and Joan Standora, Ph.D.

Welcome to our latest edition of the Stop Stigma Now newsletter. This edition includes new information, national and local news and research related to Medication Assisted Treatment.

This issue introduces one of SSN's founding members, Dan McGill, and celebrates his history and contributions to the field of MAT as well as his current activities related to SSN's effort to expand MAT education and to address stigma.

The AATOD Conference, being held virtually due to the pandemic, has selected the newest Dole/Nyswander honorees to recognize their contributions to the MAT field and we are sharing those selections with our readers. 

Articles addressing national issues have been featured, including HHS's expansion of access to MAT for Opioid Use Disorders, and two timely articles addressing the use of appropriate language and terminology in Addiction Medicine and treatment.  Our regional news includes the latest effort and policies in Pennsylvania to make MAT available in conjunction with counseling at every level of care as well as the challenges, and findings in New York concerning the relationship between the COVID pandemic and the increase in fatal drug overdoses.

Finally, research articles are included related to the approval by counselors for patients to have easy access to MAT, and additional research findings that reflect discharge and readmission data related to inpatient MAT.

Please feel free to share your comments and suggestions for future newsletters.
We're a 501(c)3 organization and in need of your support. Please consider becoming a member and receive member benefits. 
AATOD Awards Show Set For April 13
AATOD will recognize outstanding members in the opioid treatment community who've been nominated and selected by members in their own field on April 13.

"These successful Award recipients have devoted themselves to improving the lives of patients in our treatment system," reads the website. 

Click below for more information, which will be held in Las Vegas, Nevada. 
Click To Read More
Stop Stigma Now Member Profile: Dan McGill
Dan McGill has been a mainstay for SSN since its inception. As a founding member, he has contributed his energetic dedication to the public relations and education efforts of SSN to further the organization’s mission. 
A bit of history: holding a degree in philosophy, Dan sought employment after college and was offered a position at Lincoln Hall in New York City, and his journey into the world of addiction prevention, education and treatment began. At Lincoln Hall, he worked with mandated adolescents, 90% of whom had drug problems. This experience led to work in 1970 at the Arthur Kill facility on Staten Island, where he became a narcotics rehabilitation counselor. As a result of his work there, Dan was offered the directorship of a new residential program in Staten Island called Camelot in 1973. Dan continued his involvement in addiction services field, moving, in 1975, to a multipurpose outpatient program in Westchester County in New York, referring those in need to treatment facilities and moving himself out of the city to Carmel, NY.  
This program was a state-funded agency and, although it lost funding in 1977, Dan had become a member of the single state agency overseeing drug abuse programs now known as NYS OASAS.  Dan’s work focused initially on the homeless community, conducting outreach activities, community organizing, and education/prevention activities. This is what Dan describes as his most rewarding work.  As the head of the OASAS Communications Office, he thrived on working with the press for OASAS, developing groups and organizing in the communities to educate and build support for the treatment and prevention of substance use disorders. In that capacity, he helped many groups evolve, from mothers’ groups to merchants’ associations, all as part of the effort to stop the stigma associated with patients and their programs.  At the time, Dan points out, much of this effort was spawned by the “Crack Epidemic,” as neighborhoods struggled to cope with what was happening to their community members.  He has many stories to tell of how those events were received by hostile communities, particularly related to MAT programs and, eventually, joining in the efforts to address stigma and save lives. Dan also directed the CASAC training program at Lehman College in the Bronx and advocates that training programs should address the effectiveness of MAT.

On a more personal note, Dan is a father to two children and grandfather to six.  His love of communication outside of SSN has translated into a bit of an acting career in local community theater productions and, also, as a singer in a barbershop quartet. Another favorite activity is writing an ongoing weekly article for about his fantasy baseball league, the Bad Hop Special Baseball Association.  

As an ardent supporter of SSN, Dan continues his enthusiasm for working in and expanding the Speakers Bureau which he believes will continue to build SSN’s base both nationally and internationally. The bottom line is his belief that the most important aspect of this work is knowing that it benefits clients through his efforts as well as others in organizations and the larger community. 

News From MAT Field

Scientists recommend softening terminology to describe those suffering from disorders 

Words matter, and the Journal of Addiction Medicine has published a paper that found that "stigmatizing terms" such as "alcoholic," "drunk," or "junkie" when treating those suffering from substance abuse will be recommended more punitive approaches. Read the study in the link. 
Click To Read Article
Language Matters: It Is Time We Change How We Talk About Addiction and its Treatment
The National Library of Medicine also explores the topic of language when treating patients suffering from opioid abuse. 
Click To Read Article

HHS Expands Access to Treatment for Opioid Use

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced it plans to publish more guidelines to administering buprenorphine to expand access to MAT by "exempting physicians from certain certification requirements needed to prescribe buprenorphine for opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment." 
Click To Read Article
Counselors approve of easy access to methadone treatment: Study
In Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Weekly, a study tailored treatment benefits patients and counselors, especially if patients are given access to treatment that same day. But there are drawbacks. 
Click To Read Article
PubMed: Effect of Inpatient Medication-Assisted Therapy on Against-Medical-Advice Discharge and Readmission Rates
Click To Read Article

Regional News

‘We shouldn’t even have to have this conversation’: Woman recovering from opioid addiction sues to get methadone treatment in jail
In Chicago, a woman incarcerated for 30 days filed a federal lawsuit against the DuPont County Sheriff's Office for depriving her of methadone required for treatment. “It’s no different than somebody that’s a diabetic getting their insulin,” Christine Finnigan, the woman suing the sheriff, said.. “It’s a disease, and I should be entitled to (medication) whether I committed a crime or not.”
Click To Read Article
Recovering opioid user wins court case allowing her methadone treatment in jail 
Christine Finnigan will be allowed to continue her treatment for opioid addiction, a judge ruled. 
Click To Read Article
Medication mandates are major milestones in the evolution of Pennsylvania’s addiction treatment system
The Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP), which regulates addiction treatment providers, mandates providers make methadone, buprenorphine, naltrexone available at every level of care. The decision is being hailed as a milestone. 
Click To Read Article
COVID-19: CDC Cites 'Substantial Increase' In Fatal Drug Overdoses Coinciding With Pandemic
The pandemic has seen an alarmingly high number of fatal drug overdoses, according to a reporter by the Centers for Disease Control. 
Click to Read Article

A Partial Listing Of Groups And Agencies Supporting Medication Assisted Treatment For Opioid Addiction

Office for National Drug Control Policy
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
US Surgeon General
National Institute on Drug Abuse
Addiction Technology Transfer Center Network
National Institute of Health
Federal Drug Administration (FDA)
 American Association for the Treatment of Opiate Dependence
American Society for Addiction Medicine
American Medical Association
New York Academy of Science
National Alliance for Medication Assisted Recovery
Harm Reduction Coalition
Legal Action Center (New York & Washington, DC)
National Alliance for Pregnant Women
National Assn of County Behavioral Health and Developmental
Disability Directors
Faces and Voices of Recovery
National Alliance of Advocates for Buprenorphine Treatment
The Rockefeller University of New York
Partnership for Drug Free Kids
National Association of State and Alcohol Abuse Directors
 World Health Organization
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
International Doctors for Healthy Drug Policies (IDHDP)
Global Commission on Drug Policy
Open Society Institute
European Opiate Addiction Treatment Association
International Harm Reduction Coalition
Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse
European Association for the Treatment of Addiction
International AIDS Society
International Society of Addiction Medicine
Society for the Study of Addictions

SSN extends our gratitude to INDIVIOR Inc. for its generous contribution covering the 2020 publishing costs of all our Newsletters.

Help Us. Help You

A Special Thank You To Our Sponsor: 

Newsletter published by David Cruz. If you have any comments about our newsletter please email our editor, Robert Sage at
Copyright © 2018 Stop Stigma Now, All rights reserved.

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