A Word From SSN President, Sy Demsky

Dear Colleagues,
As you are aware, the coronavirus pandemic has had an increase in opioid-related deaths. I know that this does not come as a surprise to you, the people on the frontline.
SSN has doubled its efforts to assist programs and patients by directly reaching out to the courts, social service agencies, lawmakers, and the community at large by attending conferences and distributing educational materials. SSN continues to educate the public that the stigma issue surrounding the gold standard of treatment has prevented patients from entering treatment, thus causing more deaths.
MAT, Methadone, Buprenorphine, and Vivitrol saves lives. We who have worked in the field and in the trenches have an obligation to the patients and society to bring this message to the public. SSN, a not-for-profit 501(c)3, is a hands-on, boots-on-the-ground organization.
The past four months have been very productive for us. Zoom has permitted us to reach out across the country to deliver our message. We have been meeting every two weeks and attendance has averaged between 40-50 people, including colleagues from Australia, Ireland and the Netherlands.
Our latest member is Jason Snyder from Pinnacle Treatment Center, representing over 10,000 patients in several States. Welcome aboard Jason.
We have been honored in having presentations from four national leaders;
  • Mark Parrino, President of AATOD
  • Zach Talbott, President of NAMA-R
  • Westley Clark, MD past Director of CSAT
  • Jack Stein PhD, Chief of Staff-NIDA
Additionally, SSN has re-organized its work load by forming  permanent  working departments permitting us to solve problems more easily..
  • Grants: Joe Lunievicz, Chair
  • Research:  Dr. Phil Paris, MD, Chair Phil Appel, PhD., Lloyd Goldsamt, PhD. and Andy Rosenblum, PhD.
  • Policy: Robert Lubran, Steve Rabinowitz co-chair
  • Speakers Bureau: Dan McGill, Val Bonilla, co-chair
  • Fundraising: Valerie Walters, chair
  • Review of Educational Material: Megan Marx, Chair, Phil Appel, PhD, Joe Adams, MD
  • Website: Jordana Alford, Joe Lichtenstein, Joe Lunievicz
  • Newsletter: Robert Sage Chair, Joan Standora, PhD
 Our Research Department  along with New York University (NYU) is presently completing a major study, ”COVID-19: Impact on Opioid Treatment Programs in the United States.” (Phil Paris, MD, Andy Rosenblum, PhD., Phil Appel, PhD., Joe Lunievicz, and Lloyd Goldsamt, PhD. The study has reached out to 35 programs across the country. Program directors have been very receptive and forthright in their responses. We hope to present the results of this study at the next AATOD conference in April, as well as publish the results.
In addition to our Research findings, SSN has  submitting 2 additional workshops to the AATOD conference.
  1. “Overcoming Stigma-Practical Strategies and Approaches to Form Effective Community Partnerships.” (Sy Demsky, Dan McGill, and Brenda Davis)
  2. “Historical Objectives: Current Realities and Future Considerations for Central Registry Systems”  John Phillips, Robert Lubran, and Zac Talbott
So what does this all mean?

SSN is, and will continue to be, a force in educating the public regarding the benefits of MAT, and letting patients know that we are on their side. If we are successful, and we will be, patients and future patients will not feel stigmatized and afraid to enter treatment, and more people will get the care they need.
But we need your help. SSN is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization with NO PAID STAFF. Printing of materials costs $15,000, buttons $3,000, attending conferences (three last year) costs $10,000, and miscellaneous postage and office supplies costs over $2,500. Members pay dues and we get some money from friends of Stop Stigma Now, certainly not enough to cover our expenses.
We are aware that other groups are working on the stigma issue, and that’s great, however SSN is probably the only organization with boots on the ground, doing this day in and out by distributing free literature, buttons, or providing speakers.
We will be there for you. If you call us or e-mail us for help, someone will return your call or answer your e-mail immediately.
Lastly: HELP US HELP YOU and the patients. Donate as much as you can, and join with us by volunteering your service.
Please see our webpage,
Thank you
Sy Demsky
Oct. 14, 2020

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

Welcome to the latest addition of the Stop Stigma Now Newsletter. SSN welcomes Board Member Dr. Joan Standora as Co-Editor of our Newsletter.

We have made some revisions to the format of the Newsletter and hope you agree with the additions and changes.First, we will include a profile of a Board or Advisory Board member which will provide you with more knowledge of our leadership, as well as their contributions to the field and to SSN's mission. We are also including topic areas as well as Regional News to highlight that region's challenges, issues and accomplishments related to MAT and stigma.

In this issue, we profile SSN Vice President Joe Lunievicz. In addition, we are including articles and features related to the impact of COVID-19 on MAT patients and programs, including expanded take-home privileges, COVID safety and administrative issues. There are also articles discussing a nationwide study of opioid overdose interventions, access to online Suboxone treatment and a study of MAT and criminal justice outcomes.

As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions.
We're a 501(c)3 organization and in need of your support. Please consider becoming a member and receive member benefits. 
SSN Board Member Profile:
Joseph Lunievicz
Meet Joseph Lunievicz, our dedicated member of Stop Stigma Now who has helped elevate the organization's presence nationally. 

Read about his background in this brief bio on Joseph:

Joe Lunievicz, co-vice president of the SSN Board, leads our Board meetings with energy and creativity. His experience as a trainer is evident in his ability to bring Board members to order with a small exercise or quiz as the meeting begins. A little investigation into his history reveals that Joe has always been an energetic participant in the public health arena. 

From his early days in the Peace Corps in Honduras to his work at the Gay Men’s Health Crisis organization to the Narcotics and Drug Research Institute (the name has since changed) and his own consulting firm, Lunievicz Consultants, Joe has devoted much of his professional life to helping people become and stay healthy. 

Primarily involved in prevention and education efforts, Joe worked at GMHC as a trainer/teacher, developing curricula for that organization as a part of their public health outreach. When he developed a curriculum in cultural diversity for NDRI, he was invited to join that organization and stayed  for 17 years. Before leaving NDRI, he had become the Executive Director of NDRI-USA. 

Upon leaving that position, he developed his own independent firm, contracting with several national agencies as a trainer and curriculum developer; among them are SAMHSA and NADCP.  Joe notes that he met Sy Demsky, our president, eight years ago after working on harm reduction and MAT issues with NEATTC. Sy clearly saw Joe’s fit for SSN and brought him to the Board.  

His wish for SSN is to support research and training, education, and advocacy that is important for the whole country.  Joe’s mantra is to “make it your own and run for it,” as a way to motivate and engage people in a common effort. To that end, he appears to be successful as our co-vice president on the SSN Board.


News From MAT Field

Study Tests A Model Intervention To Reduce Opioid Overdose Deaths In Hard-Hit Communities

The National Institutes of Health and other federal leaders outlined a groundbreaking study that will aim to address gaps in reaching communities most heavily affected by the opioid epidemic with proven, evidence-based interventions for opioid use disorder. 
Click To Read Article

Online Suboxone Doctors Make It Possible For Delivery To Home-Recovery Patients

An article by Digital Journal says doctors are now prescribing Suboxone to recovering addicts without the need to visit a clinic.
Click To Read Article

Link Between Criminal Justice
And Methadone Treatment 

A report featured in Drug & Alcohol Findings shows continued medication-assisted treatment was associated with a reduction in arrests relative to no treatment.
Click To Read Article
Addiction Medication Denials
A report by the Legal Action Center reveals that those prescribed certain addiction medications are often forced by courts to discontinue them. 
Click To Read Article
MAT During The Pandemic

Extended Methadone Take-Homes During COVID: Nothing But Success

This article by Addiction Treatment Forum explores the continued success in states allowing for methadone treatments to be sent to the homes of patients since the COVID-19 outbreak. 
Click To Read Article

COVID-19's Impact On Methadone Treatment Field

As COVID-19 continues to impact the country, AATOD compiled a report assessing the impact of COVID-19 on methadone treatment programs and their patients.
Read The Report

Regional News

Jail Offers Methadone Treatment To Inmates With Addictions

In Arizona, in response to a growing number of people with drug addictions ending up at the jail, county personnel have established a new program to provide methadone treatments for inmates with opioid addictions.
Click To Read Article

Debate Continues On Middletown Methadone Clinic

In Middletown, Pennsylvania, the vigorous public debate surrounding a special exception request by the Root Center for Advanced Recovery to build a methadone clinic at a former auto body shop on Washington Street will continue later this month.
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
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