Press Release

September 25: Free Conference in Los Angeles Will Explore Effective Responses to Crack Cocaine and Methamphetamine Use

More than 100 Researchers, Service Providers, Those with Lived Experience, and Other Experts Will Gather to Discuss Evidence-based Strategies to Address Stimulant Use


Jules Netherland 917-819-0309
Tony Newman 646-335-5384

Los Angeles -- While opioids have understandably received a lot of attention recently, stimulant drugs -- including powder cocaine, crack, methamphetamine and Adderall -- are often overlooked. In fact, nationally, more people use stimulants than use heroin. While many people use stimulants without problems, excessive stimulant use can put people at risk for a number of health issues, including heart issues, psychological distress, and blood-borne diseases.

Despite these risks, not much is known about best ways to reduce the harms associated with stimulant use and to treat those with problematic use. On Monday, September 25th, over 100 researchers, services providers, students, and policy advocates will come together at a free one-day conference in Los Angeles entitled, Stimulant use: Harm reduction, treatment, and future directions.

“It’s time to take a fresh look at the research and innovative practices for stimulant use so we can better understand why people use these drugs and help to reduce the harms associated with their use,” said Jules Netherland, PhD, Director of the Office of Academic Engagement at the Drug Policy Alliance and one of the event organizers. “By bringing together such a wide array of experts, this conference promises to generate important solutions to problematic stimulant use.”

The conference will generate a series of recommendations for service providers and policymakers on how to better address the needs of people who use cocaine and methamphetamine, an otherwise underserved population.

“It is critically important to sort out myth from fact when it comes to people who use stimulants because they are such a highly stigmatized population,” said Lindsay LaSalle, Senior Staff Attorney at the Drug Policy Alliance. “Myths play out in many negative ways that end up hurting people who use drugs – they perpetuate shame and blame, restrict access to services, and keep people in the shadows rather than encouraging them to seek help. This conference is an opportunity to look beyond the stereotypes so we can better understand who uses stimulants, their motivations for use, related risks, and strategies for mitigating these risks.”

The potential harms from stimulant use can be different from those of other drugs, and so this conversation promises to expand understandings of harm reduction, which is often focused on providing clean syringes to opioid users. Panelists will discuss a wide range of harm reduction strategies, such as the need to create safer consumption spaces for people who smoke crack cocaine, transitioning injection stimulant users to smoking as a lower-risk route of administration, and the need for low-threshold housing and supports.

Treatment for stimulants has also been poorly understood. The conference will feature a panel to discuss evidence-based strategies like contingency management and innovative approaches such as medication assisted treatments and substitution treatments for stimulant use.

The event is free, but participants must pre-register here.

Stimulant Use: Harm Reduction, Treatment, and Future Directions

Monday, September 25, 2017
8:30 AM – 5:00 PM PDT

Japanese American National Museum
100 North Central Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90012

8:00-9:00am Registration & Sign In


Welcome/Opening Remarks –

  • Lindsay LaSalle, Senior Staff Attorney, Drug Policy Alliance
  • Jules Netherland PhD, Director of Office of Academic Engagement, Drug Policy Alliance
  • Ricky Bluthenthal PhD, Professor, Kent School of Medicine, University of Southern California

9:10-9:25am: Overview of Epidemiology/Prevalence/Trends in US and abroad -

  • Thomas Freese PhD, Co-Director, UCLA Integrated Substance Abuse Programs

9:25-9:40am: Stimulant use and its public health impact in California -

  • Gary Tsai MD, Medical Director and Science Officer, County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health

9:45-11:15am: PANEL – People who use Stimulants: A Diverse Population

  • Kaston Anderson-Carpenter PhD, Michigan State University
  • Jennifer Lorvick PhD, RTI International
  • Elise Szabo, Students for Sensible Drug Policy
  • Alice Cepada PhD, University of Southern California
  • Melynda Mindy Vincent, Utah Harm Reduction Coalition

11:15-11:30am: Break – coffee/tea/snacks

11:30-11:45am: Overview of harm reduction strategies in US and abroad-

  • Katie Stone, Research Analyst, Harm Reduction International

11:45-1:15pm: PANEL – Harm reduction interventions with people who use stimulants

  • Brandie Wilson, Humboldt Area Center for Harm Reduction
  • Kat Humphries, Harm Reduction Action Center
  • Ryan McNeil PhD, University of British Columbia
  • Anna Palmer and Peter Higgs, Burnett Institute
  • Shilo Murphy, People's Harm Reduction Alliance
  • Liz Evans, Washington Heights Corner Project & New York Harm Reduction Educators
  • Cristina Temenos, University of Burmingham


2:00-3:30pm: PANEL- Treatment Options for People who Use Stimulants

  • Diana Valentine, Center for Harm Reduction Therapy
  • Joe Schrank, High Sobriety
  • Glenn-Milo Santos PhD, University of California San Francisco
  • Rick Andrews, The Stonewall Project
  • Kanna Hayashi PhD, Simon Fraser University

3:30-5:00pm: PANEL- Lessons on the ground and future directions

  • Isaac Jackson, Urban Survivors Union
  • Michael Siever, Founder, The Stonewall Project
  • Terrell Jones, New York Harm Reduction Educators
  • Charles McWells
  • Magalie Lerman, Reframe Health and Justice Consulting

5:00-5:15pm: Closing Remarks -

Steven Shoptaw PhD, Executive Director, Center for Behavioral and Addiction Medicine (CBAM) UCLA

The conference is being hosted by the Drug Policy Alliance, along with local partnering organizations, including academic research centers, advocacy and service organizations, and public health agencies. Panels will be comprised of researchers, direct service providers, and people with a history of stimulant use in order to draw upon the various forms of expertise in this area, provide attendees with a more holistic view of the issue, and create richer dialogue about possible solutions. International experts will be featured via video.

Drug Treatment