June 4, 2008



Kim Schweikert, Conference Organizer, 896-5888
Dan Carter, University Relations, 657-2269 


Two-day “Education and Action” conference begins Monday at COT


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — The nature of drug addiction, the varying aspects of treatment and the power of family will be some of the focal points of a major two-day conference on meth abuse to be held next week at Montana State University Billings.


“Education and Action” is the focus of the fourth annual MSU Billings Meth Conference and will be held Monday and Tuesday, June 9-10, at the MSU Billings College of Technology’s Health Science Building, 3803 Central Ave. It is jointly sponsored by MSU Billings and the Yellowstone County Tavern Association.


Conference organizer Kim Schweikert, who works as outreach coordinator at the MSU Billings College of Professional Studies and Lifelong Learning, said that while Montana has made advances in the battle against meth addiction, the lasting effects on families and society remain.  And the best way to address those challenges, she said, is to find collaborative solutions.


“Our goal is to summon the resources of all aspects of the community — medical, educational, psychological, spiritual, political and legal — to respond to the threat of methamphetamine use on the users themselves, their families and our communities,” Schweikert said.


Monday morning’s keynote address will be presented by nationally known speaker Frank Kros with the Upsidedown Organization in Baltimore andexecutive vice president of the Children's Guild. Kros will speak on “The Addicted Brain” and examine why pre-teens and adolescents are more sensitive and vulnerable to the effects of alcohol, nicotine and drugs than adults. He will discuss why this vulnerability exists and offer suggestions on prevention and intervention.


Other aspects of the conference include topics the attraction of meth, early intervention, educational responses, attachment disorder among teenagers and community collaborations needed for widespread solutions.


Breakout sessions and other areas of discussion include:

  • “How to Stunt the Growth of an Addict” by Kristin Lundgren and Laura Harper from Roots of Promise: The Alliance for Children and Families in Billings.
  • A presentation on the progress of the Yellowstone County Family Drug Treatment Court by Becky Bey, court coordinator.
  • The current work of the Montana Meth Project.
  • “A Fights Back Against Meth in Indian Country” by April Flores and Amica Jefferson of IHS/POR.
  • A discussion of harm reductions and other interventions led by Casey and Eddie Rudd of Connections in Bozeman.
  • A family therapy perspective on treating addicts led by Ginny Prior of Billings.
  • A review of drug enforcement efforts in Yellowstone County led by U.S. Marshal Dwight MacKay, County Attorney Dennis Paxinos, Sheriff Chuck Maxwell and Billings Police Chief Rich St. John.

Monday night will feature a panel discussion where meth users and their families share their stories of addiction, treatment and atonement. Their stories offer powerful reminders of the human toll that meth abuse can take on parents, siblings and the family structure.


Cost for the two-day conference, which includes lunch both days, is $159 per person or $100 for college credit. Educators can earn one college credit in EDCI, REHA, HS or SCOU.


For more information, contact the College of Professional Studies and Lifelong Learning at 896-5890.