Join Us for a Congressional Briefing!

The Real Dangers of Equating Opioid Dependence with Addiction

Tuesday November 19, 2019 from 1:30-3:30 pm

 Congressional Meeting Room North (CVC 268) in the Capitol Visitor’s Center

Washington, DC

(see CVC MAP here )

To attend this briefing, register HERE

Attendance is free-of-charge

Light refreshments will be served

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The National Prevention Science Coalition to Improve Lives (NPSC) and the Congressional Addiction, Treatment and Recovery Caucus (ATR)  will co-host a briefing with internationally recognized experts to discuss the dual challenges of addiction and dependence in developing policy responses to the opioid epidemic.  Although many people conflate addiction and dependence, they are not the same, and the distinction has important implications for the millions of people who rely on opioid medications for pain management.

Addiction refers to compulsive drug use, despite harmful consequences, such as an ability to meet work, social and family obligations. Dependence, on the other hand, reflects the body’s adaptation to drug use over time—the development of tolerance to its effects and withdrawal in its absence. There are millions of patients in the US who rely on opioids for pain management and, over the years, have become dependent on them, including veterans, ex-athletes, accident victims, people with disabilities, and cancer patients. Most of these people are not addicted to these medications, and proper screening, appropriate prescribing and careful monitoring can prevent the escalation from dependence to addiction. As policy makers continue to explore solutions to addressing the nation’s opioid crisis, it is imperative to ensure that pain patients who could benefit from opioid analgesics do not suffer unintended consequences of well-intentioned policies aimed at restricting access to these medications when their use is appropriate.

This briefing will bring lawmakers, regulators, physicians and other scientists, and the public into this critical conversation. Speakers will address the science of addiction and dependence, how the distinction between them affects clinical practice and policy, and specific strategies suggested by the medical and prevention sciences for ensuring that patients’ differential needs are met. The latter includes: (1) a public health campaign to educate the public, lawmakers, industry leaders and community organizations about the distinction between dependence and addiction and its policy implications; (2) destigmatizing appropriate medical use of opioids to ensure patients receive needed treatments; (3) routinely implementing assessments to distinguish patients with addiction from those with dependence to appropriately guide remedies; and (4) scaling up evidence-based individual, family, school and community-level preventive interventions and policies to reduce exposure to the detrimental conditions that lead to addiction (Prevention and Intervention).  Although prescribing and monitoring are largely a physician-based undertaking, state and federal governments play a role in providing regulatory oversight and legislative guidance that support the evidence-based initiatives needed.  This session should be of value to legislators/staffers, practitioners, regulatory agencies, social scientists, national and community organizations, individuals impacted by pain or addiction and their families, and funders. 

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Briefing Agenda

Speaking Upon Arrival : Congressman Paul D. Tonko (NY-20) & Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-3)


Welcome by Moderator : Dr. John Roman, NORC University of Chicago, Co-Director National Prevention Science Coalition


Introductory Remarks :  Dr. Diana Fishbein, The Pennsylvania State University, Co-Director National Prevention Science Coalition


Expert Testimonies :


Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse: Dr. Nora Volkow

Nora Volkow is currently Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse at the NIH.  Over the past 30 years, she has published more than 770 peer-reviewed articles, more than 95 book chapters, edited four books on brain imaging and addiction and co-edited an Encyclopedia on Neuroscience.  She has received multiple awards including membership in the National Academy of Medicine in 2000, the International Prize for Science from the French Institute of Health and Medical Research in 2009.  She was named one of Time magazine’s “Top 100 People Who Shape Our World”,  “One of 20 People to Watch”, by Newsweek magazine, and “Innovator of the Year” by U.S. News & World Report.  Her work as a researcher and as a leader has been instrumental in transforming the paradigm of drug addiction from that of a behavioral choice to that of a treatable brain disease. 


Pain Specialist: Dr. Susan Glod, Penn State College of Medicine

Dr. Glod is an Associate Professor of Medicine, and member of the Palliative Medicine Center of Excellence at the Penn State College of Medicine.  She is board certified in both Internal Medicine and Palliative Medicine, and is a front line provider in the field of Palliative Medicine, where the focus of her clinical work is to control symptoms and maximize quality of life for individuals with cancer, end-organ disease, and other life-altering illnesses.  She serves as the interim director of the Woodward Center for Excellence in Health Sciences Education and director of the Hospice and Palliative Medicine Fellowship.  She graduated from the Penn State College of Medicine and completed her internal medicine residency training at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, after which she earned a Master’s degree in Medical Education from the University of Cincinnati and Cincinnati Children’s hospital.  She is a recipient of the College of Medicine Junior Faculty Teaching Award, Department of Medicine Distinguished Physician Award, Scholarship in Education Award and Distinguished Educator Award.  Her scholarly work centers around communication skills education and narrative medicine, and her narrative works have been published in JAMA, Annals of Internal Medicine, and The New England Journal of Medicine.

Patient: A pain patient whose career is in molecular biology, in the Department of Molecular Biosciences at the University of Texas at Austin.  He received his doctoral degree from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 2016.  His research pertains to cell surface receptors in humans and other animals, specifically (i) receptor tyrosine kinases and (ii) G-protein coupled receptors.  He and his colleagues develop tools to observe receptor clustering. They then apply these tools to study the relationship between drug binding and receptor activation.  In 2016 he sustained a spinal cord injury that left him with chronic pain, which he has managed with a combination of physical therapy, opioids and surgery.

Policy Researcher: Dr. Brendan Saloner, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Brendan Saloner is an associate professor of health policy and management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He conducts research on policies to reduce overdose risk and improve access to evidence-based substance use disorder treatment, with a particular focus on opioid use disorder. He is the principal investigator of an early career award from NIDA and a grant from Arnold Ventures to study access to medication treatment for opioid use disorder among people in the criminal justice system. He has also focused on overdose risk surveillance in partnership with the Maryland Department of Health under a grant sponsored by the US Department of Justice. Dr. Saloner served on the task force to develop a public health opioid strategy for the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health. He has published more than 80 peer-reviewed articles in major journals including JAMA, Health Affairs, and the New England Journal of Medicine. In 2019, he was the recipient of the Alice S. Hersh emerging leader award from AcademyHealth.


Prevention Scientist: Dr. Phillip Graham, RTI International

Phillip W. Graham directs the Center on Social Determinants, Risk Behaviors, and Prevention Science at RTI International. Dr. Graham has more than 25 years of experience conducting community-based research and evaluation. His research focuses on evaluating preventive interventions developed to reduce and prevent adolescent interpersonal violence and substance use. He has directed several national cross-site evaluations assessing community efforts to reduce underage drinking, prescription drug misuse and abuse, marijuana use, and opioid deaths. Dr. Graham has also investigated the effects of witnessing community violence on perpetration, the development of ethnic identity among African American male adolescents as a protective factor, and the impact of comprehensive school-based interventions and services to promote healthy child development. He currently serves as the Principal Investigator for NIDA’s HEAL Prevention Initiative Coordinating Center which collaborates with ten (10) research sites awarded to develop interventions to reduce opioid misuse among older adolescents and young adults age 16-30. Dr. Graham is a current board member of the Society for Prevention Research and a founding board member for the National Prevention Science Coalition.



Please consider sponsoring this effort to ensure it is a success. We will need financial support for travel (both speakers and NSPC organizers), refreshments , and accompanying materials.  Donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. Sponsors will be acknowledged on the briefing announcement online and during introductory remarks at the event.  We can also include related materials on our handout table.

For more information about this briefing, contact:


Diana Fishbein, Ph.D. Professor at The Pennsylvania State University and Co-Director of NPSC (

and John Roman, Ph.D., NORC at the University of Chicago and Co-Director of NPSC (

ABOUT US: The NPSC is composed of scientists, educators, practitioners and clinicians, policy makers, foundation representatives, and affiliated organizations, housed at Pennsylvania State University.  We work in a nonpartisan manner with Congressional offices and Caucuses and collaborate with like-minded groups and federal agency administrators (e.g., NIH, SAMHSA, ONDCP, OJJDP, CDC) in a mutual advisory capacity.  Coalition members share a common goal of applying validated scientific findings to wide-scale effective implementation of practices and policies to improve the lives of children, adolescents, their families and communities.  We work across sectors to address challenges in mental and behavioral health, education, poverty, juvenile and criminal justice, adverse environmental influences and social conditions that contribute to chronic illness and social ills. Our work includes congressional briefings, policy papers, op-eds, and fact sheets for the public and private sectors. We have conducted 19 previous prevention-related briefings (Child Poverty; Foundation & Gov't Partnerships; School Violence, Safety, & Well-Being; Preventing Human Trafficking; Budgeting for Evidence-Based Prevention; Police Community Relations; Home Visiting; Childhood Poverty; Violence and Sexual Assault Against Women; Evidence-Based Policy; Preventing Opioid Addictions; Healthy Parenting through Primary Care; Reducing Poverty; Violence Prevention; Economics of Prevention; Science to Policy; Juvenile Justice Reform; Scaling-up Implementation; and Interventions Across Policy Areas). Briefings are designed to be of value to legislators, staffers, administrators, researchers, evaluators, educators, practitioners, advocates, and funders.

© 2020 by NPSC.

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