Last week, Hancock County Youth Court hosted a multi-disciplinary training on “The Science of Addiction” for the stakeholders in child welfare throughout Hancock County.

Hancock County Judge Trent Favre said training events such as these are important so that “we’re all working from the same playbook, consistently practicing in the child welfare system.”

Favre said there is still a lot to be learned about addiction.

“There are a lot of stigmas out there about addiction that we need to dispel,” he said.

The keynote speaker was Dr. Kenneth Roy from Tulane Medical Center, who is certified in addiction medicine, Favre said.

Roy is also an associate professor of Addiction Medicine and Psychiatry and serves as director of a training program for medical doctors in addiction medicine.

“We’ve done this training twice as small groups and it was so beneficial each time that we felt like we should bring this to the mass,” Favre said.

During the lunch hour, Favre said, participants also completed a survey he dubbed, “What’s the Story?”

He asked participants to write a story about Hancock County to evaluate what the perceptions about the county are and also the hopes and dreams of the people living in the county.

In addition to the story, Favre said, he also has a regular survey go out evaluating services for children and families.

“The ultimate question is, are we really paying attention to the most vulnerable in our county?,” Favre said. “And are we reacting appropriately, providing services, and activities and things to do?”

During the afternoon session, Favre said, the focus moved to TBRI, trust-based relation intervention.

“That is a trauma-informed approach to working with people who have experienced trauma,” Favre said. “It was originally created to help foster parents work with their foster kids that have been through trauma, but it was expanded to work with really anyone with trauma. We are in the process of an implementation in Hancock County and we are partnering with the state to bring that implementation statewide.”

Favre said Hancock County was the first in the state to become trained in TBRI.

Favre said about 120 people registered for last week’s event, representing the court system; Child Protection Services; CASA; the school systems; and mental health workers.

Favre said Roy’s trainings are “really informational, but also transformational.”

“They really get you to think about addiction in a different light,” he said.

Roy said that people don’t choose addiction and that there is a “strong, genetic predisposition.”

“It starts early in life (teens) and once they start using, emotional development stops,” he said. “People come into the hospital for treatment at 40 years old but with the emotional development of a 14-year-old.”

Roy said recovery is about assuming responsibility and dealing with feelings that most people dealt with in their teens.

“Detox is not treatment, it’s a prerequisite,” Roy said. “All that happens, is they get off drugs without additional help or recovery and they almost always relapse.”

Roy said a common misunderstanding is that some “act as if people with addition are normal people who have chosen a lifestyle not in their best interest or the best interest of the people around them.”

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