Celebrating 45 years of providing outstanding continuing education
The Silver City Annual Addiction Education Institute has the distinction of being one of the oldest addiction training events in the United States. Started when the field was in its infancy, it was originally two weeks long. The first week was attended by people from all disciplines working with alcoholics, including nurses, doctors and other professionals. The second week was focused on development of effective skills for alcoholism counseling. At that time, there was not a clearly defined role for substance abuse counselors, and drug counseling was separated from alcohol counseling. As the only training event of its kind available in New Mexico, and indeed the Southwest area, attendance levels were often at 500+ people.
The Institute has always been sponsored by Western New Mexico University, which continues to be a pioneer in workforce development for the field of addictions. One of the founders was Dr. Lawrence Armand French, the now retired program director for Chemical Dependency Studies at WNMU. He continues to be a staunch supporter of the Institute. Dr. French had the Institute added to the WNMU catalog as an upper level and graduate level class in 1997. The Institute is required coursework for students majoring in the Chemical Dependency program, and an elective for many other programs such as psychology, sociology and criminal justice. After Dr. French retired, Dr. John Bourdette took over as faculty sponsor for the Institute and coordinates college credit for participants. Beginning in 2007, we will be collaborating with the Social Work program at WNMU to provide addiction training to students as well as professional social workers providing services to persons struggling with mood altering substances.
The Drug and Alcohol Institute in Silver City was the main training event for addictions sponsored by the Department of Health, Behavioral Health Services Division (BHSD) for the better part of two decades. Silver City was considered too remote a location, so BHSD moved their main training to Albuquerque. Even after the BHSD moved its main conference to Albuquerque, it continued to sponsor the Institute with scholarships, advertising and speakers.
In recent years, the Pacific Southwest Addiction Technology Transfer Center has vigorously supported the Institute with funding and speakers. This support also kept the flames of the Institute alive during major changes in leadership.
The Institute was also sponsored by the local affiliate of the National Association for Addiction Professionals until 2006, when it was no longer considered a viable component of the new strategic plan. NMAAP (formerly NMADACA) coordinated and managed the event for many years, providing marketing and speakers, managing registrations and breathing life into the event with the Annual Association Meeting. Without this support, the Institute might not have survived.