Knowledge is Power

Conference for Families Struggling with Addiction

Shortening the Path to Recovery

Saturday, June 16, 2018
Worcester Polytechnic Institute



The Knowledge is Power conference focuses on families impacted by their loved one’s disease of addiction. Amidst the opioid crisis in our country many conferences/resources have been made available to help the professionals in the field working with individuals struggling with substance use disorder. This conference seeks to highlight the ways that families can find recovery through education, peer support and self-care strategies. This is a family disease; through education, our hope is to empower the family.

Who Should Attend: Anyone that has a family member or loved one that is struggling with the disease of addiction or is in recovery. Professionals in the recovery field that want to learn more about how to help families are invited to attend.

Conference Agenda
Questions on the conference? Contact Us



Course Descriptions: (participants in the conference will choose 3 of the 6 conference tracks listed below)

Understanding the Physiology of Addiction
Navigating Insurance and Finances
Levels of Treatment/Continuum of Care
Self Care and Mindfulness for Families
Understanding the Law and Navigating the Criminal Justice System
Family Changes and Dynamics

Understanding the Physiology of Addiction: (Why they behave the way that they do)

Speaker: Donna White – Addiction Specialist for the Lemuel Shattuck Hospital

  • Major physiological /psychological/environmental contributing factors to addiction
  • The effects of various substances on the brain and why it is so difficult to quit
  • Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome and how it relates to the “disease model”
  • How the relapse cycle occurs, common patterns with relapse
  • Why they behave the way they do, and how this should inform families expectations and treatment

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Navigating Insurance and Finances:

Speaker:  Michael Julian – Director of Legal Services at the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department

  • Financial and insurance considerations when seeking treatment for a loved one
  • How to make decisions about treatment based on your personal resources
  • Protecting assets and avoiding personal liability
  • Process for applying for MassHealth and using private insurance to pay for treatment
  • Pitfalls in the continuum of coverage and strategies to better navigate these gaps

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Levels of Treatment/Continuum of Care:

Speaker:  Kevin Rosario – Regional Outreach Representative, Gosnold

  • Comprehensive walk through the continuum of services
  • From detox to long term residential care to outpatient supports
  • Peer support meetings/models
  • Medication Assisted Treatment
  • The Role of the Recovery Coach
  • How to pair level of need with level of care.

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Self Care and Mindfulness for Families

Speaker:  Scott Hirsh – Prana Recovery Centers

  • Ways to engage in self-care in order to survive and promote the best care for your loved one
  • A specialist in the field of mindfulness will discuss and teach strategies

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Understanding the Law and Navigating the Criminal Justice System

Speaker:  Judge Timothy Bibaud – the first justice for the Dudley District Court in Worcester County, Massachusetts

  • Civil Commitment Process for mental health (Section 12) and substance use disorder (Section 35)
  • Drug Court model in Massachusetts
  • Common challenges faced when substance use disorder and the criminal justice systems intersect.

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Family Changes and Dynamics:

Speaker: Diana Clarke, JD, MA, Family Addictions Consultant

  • Importance of the family unit getting on the same page
  • Setting boundaries
  • Challenges that siblings face when the family is living with a person in active addiction
  • Grandparents raising Grandchildren

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Opening Remarks

Joanne Peterson

Founder and Executive Director, Learn to Cope

Joanne Peterson is the Founder and Executive Director of Learn to Cope (LTC), a non-profit peer-led support network which began in 2004. Joanne’s journey started as a young girl with siblings experiencing issues with mental illness and addiction. Years later when Joanne discovered that her own son’s experimentation with prescription drugs led to an opioid addiction, she was motivated and empowered to use her voice to bring about change. Today her son is in long term recovery. She designed LTC to offer families the support, education, resources and hope that her family would have benefitted from.

Keynote Speakers

Dr. Andrew Kolodny

Co-Director of Opioid Policy Research at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management.

Dr. Andrew Kolodny is the Co-Director of Opioid Policy Research at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management. His primary area of focus is the prescription opioid and heroin crisis devastating families and communities across the country. He is also the executive director of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, an organization with a mission to reduce morbidity and mortality caused by overprescribing of opioid analgesics.




Joe Rannazzisi

Retired Drug Enforcement Administration Senior Executive

Retired Drug Enforcement Administration Senior Executive Service employee with over 29 years of federal law enforcement experience as a Special Agent/Investigator, who is also a licensed pharmacist and attorney. Demonstrated expertise in conducting and supervising multi-jurisdictional, multi-target criminal, civil, and regulatory investigations with positive results. Provided leadership to a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Headquarters team of approximately 300 personnel and controlled a budget of nearly $350 million. Provided administrative and financial support and strategic direction to almost 1,000 field personnel with the common goal of enforcing the Controlled Substances Act and its implementing regulations. Responsible for oversight and control of all regulatory compliance inspections and civil and criminal investigations of approximately 1.6 million DEA registrants (healthcare professionals and corporations that must obtain a DEA registration in order to handle pharmaceutical controlled substances). Nationally-recognized speaker on pharmaceutical diversion and investigations, abuse trends, regulatory compliance, listed chemicals, and synthetic drugs.


Timothy M. Bibaud

First justice for the Dudley District Court in Worcester County, Massachusetts

Timothy Bibaud is a 1981 graduate of Holy Cross with a bachelor’s degree in political science. Bibaud went on to graduate from the New England School of Law in 1988, and was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar in 1989. From 1988-2010, Bibaud served as an assistant district attorney for Worcester County. He established the gang and organized crime unit in 1992, and received the St. Thomas More Award in 2010. In August of 2010 Bibaud was appointed associate justice of the district court, then in January of 2012 he was appointed first justice of the Dudley district court. In June of 2014 Judge Bibaud launched the Dudley Drug Court — the first of its kind in Worcester County.


Diana Clark, JD, MA

Family Addictions Consultant

Watching a loved one grapple with an addictive disorder  can be terrifying, confusing and stressful. As a specialist in addiction and family systems Diana Clark offers an array of services designed to educate family members about addictive disorders and encourage healthy responses. With a masters degree in Counseling Psychology from Antioch University, Diana offers a calm, compassionate and logical voice during a time of turmoil; encouraging family members to engage in behavior which promotes recovery and healthy functioning for all. Prior to her work in addictions consulting, Diana was a practicing Labor and Employment attorney advising employers about the need for clear, compassionate and enforceable policies and the best method for their implementation.

Tom Foye

Recovery Advocate

Tom Foye considers himself to be a recovery advocate. Tom graduated from AIC in Springfield MA in 1986 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice and returned to earn his Master’s Degree. He was appointed to the Ludlow Police Department in 1987 and enjoyed a remarkable 26 year career to include serving for three years on an FBI safe streets/ violent crimes task force. He served for 10 years as the Sergeant in Charge of the Detective Bureau, supervising the investigation of all felonies. He is also a graduate of the 219th session of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Virginia. Tom was eventually promoted to the rank of Lieutenant. Tom was an elected member of the Ludlow School Committee, a youth soccer coach and volunteer. After a series of surgeries, Tom became addicted to opiate painkillers. On August 15 of 2013 Tom was arrested at the Ludlow Police Department and eventually incarcerated. Tom has dedicated himself to helping people understand addiction and removing the stigma of the disease. He earned a certificate in Addiction Counseling from Westfield State University and is currently employed as an addiction counselor. Tom spends time speaking on the topic of the opioid epidemic at conferences, forums, universities, jails, hospitals, TV, radio and numerous support groups, to include Learn to Cope. His story is one that suggests that addiction is a disease that can happen to anyone, just as recovery can happen to anyone.

Scott Hirsh

Prana Recovery Centers

Trailing an eclectic history of academic philosophy and service industry work, Scott plunged deeply into meditation and yoga after sustaining a broken collarbone during a martial arts training session. This incident served as a catalyst to taking a longtime, casual meditation practice to the next level. Mere weeks after the accident, he attended his first ten-day silent vipassana retreat and enrolled in his first course of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). In the years since, he’s become a qualified teacher of MBSR through the Center for Mindfulness (part of UMass Medical School) and a 200-hour RYT/KYT certified yoga teacher through the Kripalu School of Yoga. Scott has been a mindfulness teacher with Prana since early 2016 and has worked with every member of the Relapse Prevention Program in Prana’s history to date.

Michael J. Julian

Director of Legal Services at the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department

Attorney Michael J. Julian has been a practicing attorney in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for thirty-five years. Currently, he is the Director of Legal Services at the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department and he also maintains a private law practice in Wilbraham. Previously, Atty, Julian was an Assistant District Attorney in the Hampden County District Attorney’s Office in Springfield. During his many years spent in private practice, Atty. Julian has devoted himself to criminal defense work in both the State and Federal Courts. This experience has served him well in both life and in working with inmates. During his tenure with the Sheriff’s Department, Atty. Julian has had the opportunity to work closely with inmates incarcerated due to Substance Use Disorder and has seen, first-hand, both its devastating impact on the inmate and his or her family, but also the redemption and hope of those who find another chance and new beginning as a result of their incarceration. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Western New England University School of Law, and is a long-time member of Learn to Cope.

Kevin Rosario

Regional Outreach Rep. at Gosnold Inc.

Kevin Rosario works with professionals and community based organizations to help patients gain access to treatment. Kevin facilitate’s presentations to families, students and health care providers about the disease of addiction and effective ways to successfully remain in remission and use language that reduces stigma. He is also a Nationally Certified Recovery Coach and trained in interventions and family coaching.

Donna White

Addiction Specialist

Donna McCarten White is the former Addiction Specialist for the Lemuel Shattuck Hospital.  She is a licensed drug and alcohol counselor with an additional certification in advanced Drug and Alcohol Counseling, is certified in Chemical Dependency and Addictions Nursing, and is certified by the ANCC as a Clinical Nurse Specialist in Public Health Nursing. Dr. White is the recipient of many Community Awards and nominations.   In 2017, she was given the an  Award by the C4 Foundation in Addictions Work. Dr. White is the statewide Chairperson of the MNA Addictions Council, is certified by the Green Cross Foundation as an educator and therapist in Compassion Fatigue concerns and is a specialist in Addictive Disorders, Compassion Fatigue and Vicarious Traumatization in Healthcare Professionals.   She has lectured at many facilities and agencies and is a recognized leader in the field of Addictions, Impaired Practice and Peer Assistance, as well as Healthcare.