Innovations in Recovery: Novel interventions for mental health, alcohol and substance misuse in the 21st century
The news is replete with stories of skyrocketing rates of overdose due to the opioid crisis and concerns for America’s youth as cannabis is increasingly available. Families and loved ones of people struggling with alcohol and substance use disorders are increasingly seeking solutions. In response, researchers, recovery advocates, clinicians and others are developing new strategies to combat these problems. Novel interventions include digital age solutions such as mutual support through podcasts and blogging, and mobile phone apps but they simultaneously include low-tech solutions such as exercise, meditation, and mindfulness to help people slow down and get in touch with what is most important. Meet Dr. Sarah Church CC ’90, addiction psychologist and CEO of Wholeview Wellness, Lisa Smith, recovery advocate, writer, author, attorney and podcast host and Laura Newman GS ’20 who will walk us through cutting-edge solutions to these troubling times.
Sara Church CC ’90
Dr. Sara Church, the founder and executive director of Elevate360, is a clinical psychologist who has more than 20 years of experience in research, program development and treatment of patients with substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders. She is an expert in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Community Reinforcement Approach (CRA) and Contingency Management.
Before starting Elevate360, Dr. Church served as the Executive Director of the Division of Substance Abuse at Montefiore Medical Center and as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Albert Einstein College of Medicine for 16 years. She completed a predoctoral fellowship in addiction at the Yale University School of Medicine and a postdoctoral year at the Substance Treatment and Research Service (STARS) at Columbia University Medical Center after graduating from Fordham University with a doctorate in clinical psychology and from Columbia University with an AB in psychology. Dr. Church was appointed by Mayors Bloomberg and De Blasio to the NYC-DOHMH Community Services Board and serves on the Board of the Coalition of Medication Assisted Treatment Providers and Advocates (COMPA). She is the President Elect for the Division of Substance Abuse at the New York State Psychological Association (NYSPA). Internationally, she has provided consultation to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) for both Vietnam and Afghanistan as they develop medication assisted treatment centers in their countries.
Lisa Smith is a recovery advocate, writer, podcast host, and lawyer in New York City. She is the author of Girl Walks Out of a Bar, her memoir of high-functioning addiction and recovery in the world of New York City corporate law. She also co-hosts the podcast, Recovery Rocks, an inclusive discussion of issues affecting people in all kinds of recovery.
Ms. Smith is passionate about breaking the stigma of addiction and mental health issues and is a frequent speaker at law firms, law schools, bar associations, and other organizations.
Ms. Smith has appeared on TODAY and BBC World News discussing alcoholism and addiction. Her writing has been published in The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Women’s Health, Refinery29, TheTemper.com, A Women’s Thing, and WorkitHealth.com, among others.
Prior to beginning her more than 20-year legal administration career, Ms. Smith practiced law in the Corporate Finance group of a leading international firm. She has served for more than five years as the Deputy Executive Director of a top New York City firm.
Ms. Smith is a graduate of Northwestern University and Rutgers School of Law, where she served on the Editorial Board of the Rutgers Law Review.
Laura Newman GS ’20
Laura Newman is a Certified Personal Trainer and Yoga Teacher with seventeen years of experience in the fitness and wellness industries. With a particular interest in the ways in which different types of physical activity impact cognitive and neurological functioning and development, Ms. Newman works one on one with addicts at any stage of recovery using weightlifting, aerobic training, as well as yoga as tools to support positive mood affect and to mitigate physical craving of addictive substances.
Ms. Newman’s work as a trainer started as a side job to her career as a ballet and modern dancer. Exercise Science quickly become a focus of interest along with yoga (specifically, Ashtanga Yoga). She made multiple trips to India to deepen her yoga practice and eventually moved there when she was offered a position as Fitness Director of an Australian based fitness center that was opening a club in Bangalore. She lived there for two years before returning to New York in 2015 to take a break from the body and to begin her studies in Neuroscience and Religion at Columbia University’s School of General Studies.
Since her return from India, her involvement in multiple recovery communities led her to working with recovering addicts as their trainer. Through this experience, and continuously exploring the research done on the matter, Ms. Newman has become an advocate for fitness training being implemented in treatment programs to address the physiological challenges that are faced when fighting for recovery.
This event is co-sponsored by the Columbia University Club of New York and the Penn Club.