Opioid addiction expert panel featured at March 22 Westfield State Guest Lecture event

WESTFIELD—As part of its Guest Lecture Series, Westfield State University, in partnership with Baystate Medical Center, will host “Addiction & Recovery in Our Community: Many Paths to Recovery” on Wednesday, March 22 from 8:30 a.m. to noon. The event will feature keynote speaker Dr. Robert Roose, vice president, Mercy Behavioral Health at Sisters of Providence Health System, as well as a panel of area addiction experts.

Roose, a member of the Massachusetts Governor’s Opioid Addiction Working Group, will address the status of the current opioid epidemic in the Commonwealth and provide recommendations to aid the state’s ongoing response to promote recovery.

His remarks will be followed by a panel discussion featuring: Alissa Burke, detective, West Springfield Police Department; Stephen Lee, DBH, PA-C, Physician Assistant program, Westfield State University; Judith MacMunn, LICSW, Area Clinical Manager, Department of Children & Families; Susan Molano, LICSW, Substance Use Disorder Program, VA Central Western MA Healthcare System; and Dr. Stephen Ryzewicz, hospitalist, Baystate Medical Center.

Opioid abuse and addiction is increasing across the entire country. The 2016 Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health reports an estimated 20.8 million people in the United States live with a clinically diagnosed substance abuse disorder. According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the number of annual opioid-related deaths in the Commonwealth has quadrupled from 355 in 2000 to more than 1,400 in 2016.

“Addiction impacts the vast majority of people within our community, and learning about the various paths someone can take to enter recovery from substance use is essential in making headway against this devastating disease,” said Dr. Nora Padykula, LICSW, BSW program director. “ The Westfield State and Bay State Medical Center event seeks to normalize the prevalence of addiction, reduce the stigma in asking for help, and provide hope that people can and do recover from the disease of addiction.”

The panel discussion will be followed by a Narcan demonstration. Lecture guests can also visit more than 40 vendor booths at the event.

The event is free and open to the public and will be held in Scanlon Banquet Hall. Social workers and certified alcohol and drug addiction counselors who attend the event can receive three Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for an additional cost of $15. For more information, visit