School of Journalism and New Media

The University of Mississippi

Confronting the opioid crisis in Mississippi event set for Friday, April 20 in Overby auditorium

Posted on: April 19th, 2018 by ldrucker

Four policy experts will confront the ongoing opioid crisis in Mississippi at 2 p.m. Friday, April 20, in the Overby Center auditorium at the University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media.

As the keynote event of the STEM Festival at the University of Mississippi, the panel will explore policy perspectives and opportunities that could slow the widespread abuse of strong prescription and non-prescription painkillers in Mississippi. Opioids, which include OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin and Fentanyl, can cause respiratory failure and death in high doses.

Dr. Ben Banahan, director of the UM Center for Pharmaceutical Marketing and Management, is also the project director of the Mississippi Medicaid Evidence-Based Drug Utilization Review Program. He will talk about his work with the Pharmacy Quality Alliance to develop, test and implement opioid-related quality measures, as well as drug utilization review analysis that can help Mississippi Medicaid better manage opioid prescriptions. He will also discuss ways to identify Medicaid beneficiaries at high risk of opioid dependence and abuse for potential intervention and treatment.

Clint Crawford, director of addiction services at Lifecore Health Group in Tupelo, has been working in and around the addiction field in different facets since 1998. He will discuss barriers and inroads to effective substance abuse treatment, as well as safer healthcare and pain management.

“Getting to help patients regain their lives from the grips of the devastating disease of addiction is rewarding beyond words,” he said.

Crawford has authored four books. The latest is The Prison With No Bars: A Book for Families Dealing with Addict Loved Ones, written specifically for use in treatment centers, outpatient programs, and as self-work for friends and families of those struggling with addiction. Crawford,  along with Dale Phillips, is the co-founder of the REINS model of equine therapy, an equine therapy model designed to target and treat addiction and trauma.

Chad Clardy, business director of Mid-South for Addiction Campuses in Tupelo, will discuss opportunities for improved opioid addiction treatment in Mississippi. Although an addiction to pain pills nearly cost Clardy his life and his freedom, after only a year of treatment, he landed his first job in the recovery field.

A 2013 graduate of Ole Miss, he has also directed community outreach and marketing and has served in community relations, admissions and drug/alcohol counseling for several area treatment centers, including LifeCore and Oxford Treatment Center.

Dr. Randy Wadkins, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Mississippi, will talk about the role and potential of federal science policy in addressing the epidemic. He has spent over 27 years in cancer research, including stints at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

In 2015-2016, he was an American Association for the Advancement of Science Congressional Fellow in the Washington, D.C., office of Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-9; Memphis), where he handled healthcare policy.

The STEM Festival, April 20-21, will celebrate science, technology, engineering and mathematics at the University of Mississippi. For more information about the weekend events and updates, visit

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