The vision of our inaugural SUD Talks was brought to life by the support of our sponsors who we give great thanks to. Our sponsors know that with change comes risk, and they were willing to take it. While many may think a leader is the person to start a mission, we believe that a leader is the first one to take the risk to follow. We thank our sponsors for their valued leadership.


Weiner, Lynne & Thompson, P.A.

Q: What segment of the Industry is your organization most passionate about impacting change? And why?

As a law firm with its original founding in Land Use & Zoning law, we find that the discussion about the societal impacts of the location of treatment providers and housing continues to be a sensitive one.  Urban planners, social scientists, health care professionals, and civic and community leaders, all need to come together and find a way to incorporate the Recovery Community into the fabric of their larger cities and counties.  We are most passionate about driving this discussion at the local, state and national level, with Delray Beach serving as the proud model community for how otherwise divergent populations can choose to come together to “create” a community.

Q: As the Visionary Sponsor, share your vision of an Integrated Community Model of Excellence

Delray Beach has actually become, in all senses of the term, an Integrated Community Model of Excellence. From the Mayor’s Office, to the City Manager and his staff, the Chief of Police, the Fire Department, Code Enforcement, to all of the various SUD treatment and housing stakeholders, we have seem to have found a way to come together and find common ground on those things which we can agree upon

Q: How does your organization currently “create change” for the betterment of the Industry?

Weiner, Lynne and Thompson, as a firm, has never “shied away” from representing persons who may embody controversial community matters, to the extent that forcing the discussion of what the real “problems” are has afforded Delray to actually become the best place to live, by not brushing our problems–which all communities share alike–under the rug. All communities have people in recovery as their neighbors. All communities have families battling drug and alcohol misuse. We have, in a way, forced the issue, as well as forced the greater Recovery Community to take stock of and responsibility for itself.

Q: Why did you feel it was important to be part of the inaugural launch of SUD Talks?

The format is perfectly situated for Delray Beach, where our firm has made its home going on our 40th year! Delray Beach has always been at the forefront of social change and social movements. This event is one of many that falls within the proud tradition.

Q: What impact can changing the way we “view and treat” Substance Use Disorder have in our community and as a nation?

In order to change the way we “view” SUD, we need to encourage those who are suffering with this disease to actually cast off their anonymity so that the real faces and voices of those in recovery can be seen and heard. Movies and other media can no longer be allowed to serve as the sole source of our images of (and fear from) this issue.  The ability to change how we “treat” SUD is a much larger topic, as our society’s culture is based upon “rugged individualism” and “personal responsibility.” While it may “take a community” to raise a child, it also “takes a community” to help people overcome this disease, as loneliness and isolation feeds the addictive soul.

Idea Sponsor

Advanced Recovery Systems

Q: What segment of the Industry is Advanced Recovery Systems most passionate about impacting change? And why? 

We are dedicated to providing patients with access to affordable quality healthcare options when seeking treatment for addiction, substance abuse, eating disorders and co-occurring mental health issues. By providing comprehensive clinical and medical care throughout the full continuum of treatment, our patients receive exceptional personalized service before, during and after their time in our facilities.

Q: Why is the SUD Talk topic you have selected important to “create change” in the Industry? 

The Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs showed that if you have a gene for alcoholism or alcohol dependence, you are 38-53% at risk for developing bulimia—specifically binge eating and purging with vomiting, laxatives and diuretics. Eating Disorders have the highest mortality of any psychiatric illness. Having worked in the field of Eating Disorders and Substance Use Disorders for over 20 years, Dr. Wandler is very passionate about treating an individual with both SUD and ED in an integrated format to address both of their needs. Sadly, he has worked with patients who developed full blown eating disorder or a process addiction, usually Binge Eating Disorder or Bulimia Nervosa in early recovery. ARS has a program for addressing these dual diagnoses in an integrated manner.

Q: How does Advanced Recovery Systems currently “create change” for the betterment of the Industry? 

Advanced Recovery Systems is focused on becoming one of the nation’s most well respected and sought after behavioral healthcare companies. Our desire to continue to be recognized as a leader in providing innovative, cost-effective quality care with measurable outcomes motivates each decision we make. It is our hope to leave an indelible footprint on this industry by working to advance the field through innovative treatment approaches, steadfast patient commitment and exceptional leadership. 

Q: Why did you feel it was important to be part of the inaugural launch of SUD Talks?

Education, awareness and advocacy are fundamental responsibilities of our organization. Supporting our community, which is not only largely affected by SUDs, but is also a highly sought after destination for treatment, makes it imperative for us to equip patients, their supporters, including family members and professionals, with access to information to appropriately identify a quality treatment location to ensure the patient’s long term success.

Q: What impact can changing the way we “view and treat” Substance Use Disorder have in our community and as a nation?

First and foremost, our focus has to be on providing quality patient care. Identifying locations that are centers of excellence will help to propel the public’s perception in a positive direction because of their exceptional reputations and outcomes. We must focus on the needs of each patient, tailoring their treatment accordingly and advocating for their needs when dealing with insurance companies. Shifting the focus from treatment being a 30 day “quick fix” to a long term commitment to sobriety will help change the public’s perception of what treatment and recovery look like. Addiction is a chronic disease which requires life-long maintenance and support. Once this philosophy is accepted on a global scale, we will be able to provide appropriate support at varying stages in patient’s lives.

thinker and doer Sponsors

Alpert Jewish Family & Children’s Service (AJFCS) 

Q: What segment of the industry is your organization most passionate about impacting change? And why?

Alpert Jewish Family & Children’s Service (AJFCS) is part of a network of more than 100 Jewish Family and Children’s Service agencies throughout the United States and Canada.  Our South Florida Jewish Family Service network includes agencies in Dade County, Broward County, and the Ruth and Norman Rales Jewish Family Service agency, servicing Delray Beach and Boca Raton.

As a human service agency, AJFCS is dedicated to and most passionate about strengthening our communities by helping people during challenging times in their lives. So often, individuals and families are faced with a crisis as the precipitant for seeking help. At AJFCS, recognizing challenging times and offering solutions for ways to optimize functioning, regardless of the challenge, is a theme that runs throughout all our 28 different programs and services. We work with all age groups, yet, given the demographics of South Florida, we have established expertise is working with our older adult communities, and with the large number of Holocaust survivors living in South Florida. We help families plan proactively, to avert what might become a crisis if not addressed in the present. This is particularly true in our LifePlanning program, in which we seek to assist families who have not yet created a future plan for their loved one with a disability. 

AJFCS is a nationally accredited agency, committed to helping individuals and families through quality, innovative, best practice programming. We are passionate about civic engagement and seek opportunities to use our naturally occurring resources (the members of our community) to create positive change whenever possible.

Q: How does your SUD TALK topic reflect the efforts of your organization?

Destigmatizing mental illness, enough to even “say the words” and have the conversation, is truly the first step toward getting someone to the help they need. Many of the efforts of our agency are about “shining the light” on issues that people would rather not discuss. It is not easy to talk about the strain of being a caregiver, or to face end of life issues, or to wonder if your child might have autism, or an eating disorder. It is not easy to consider what might happen to your adult child with schizophrenia or an intellectual disability when you are no longer here to care for them. And, it is so often the case that person’s with a mental illness suffer in silence, and alone.

AJFCS focuses on optimizing functioning and helping individuals and families achieve meaningful, quality lives. If we, as a society, embrace persons struggling with mental illness, and help guide them to the help they need, we can hope to bring about change in the lives of the one in five individuals in our country suffering with a mental illness. Not only will we be strengthening families, but we will be saving lives.

Q: What action “change” would you like to see started as a result of your SUD Talks? Why is Mental Health an important part of SUD Talks?

Recent scientific studies have suggested that nearly one-third of people with all mental illnesses and approximately one-half of people with severe mental illnesses experience co-occurring substance use disorders. All too often, drugs and alcohol can be a type of self-medication for those who have not received appropriate treatment for their underlying mental illness. If we can’t talk about it, we can’t diagnose it. If we can’t diagnose it, we can’t treat it. But, if left untreated, people with mental illnesses still look for ways to cope. Substances are often one of those coping strategies. 

This SUD Talk will shine the light on the importance of including mental health issues in any community conversations that focus on substance use. The change will be an increased understanding of the important connection between SUD and Mental Illness, and the reduction of shame and stigma associated with both. The “change” would be to lessen the affliction of denial exhibited by too many people have when it comes to focusing on mental illness.

Q: Why did you feel it was important to be part of the inaugural launch of SUD Talks?

I am thrilled to have the opportunity to include Mental Illness in a program focused on Substance Use Disorders. Without question, abuse of drugs and alcohol always lead to a worse prognosis for persons struggling with mental illness. For some, it may be because their underlying mental illness was never addressed. For others, it may be because their active substance use is contributing to their lack of compliance with keeping appointments, taking medication, and following a treatment plan. Unfortunately, there becomes a vicious cycle of substance use exacerbating the mental illness…..and often vice versa. Including mental health in a discussion of substance use is necessary for real change.

Q: What can be the impact to overcoming mental health and substance use disorders if there was change in the way we think, feel, believe, and treat substance use disorders?

Promoting mental health, and appropriately providing awareness and treatment for mental illness and substance use disorders, will ultimately strengthen our communities and reduce the impact of behavioral health conditions. If we embrace the need for appropriate responses to persons with mental health and substance use disorders, rather than stigmatizing and shunning those afflicted as “outsiders,” we will be taking a huge step toward dealing realistically with our communities; helping all members of society live within a culture of support, inclusion, and dignity.


City of Delray Beach

Q: What role can the City of Delray Beach take to facilitate change? And how?

The City of Delray Beach exists to provide services to its residents. All of the City Departments, Advisory Boards and Committees must provide these services fairly and equitably to all residents. Public input and recommendations from residents, boards, and committees are offered to our City Commission for possible changes in policy, which are then voted upon by the Commission before any action is taken. These facts limit the City of Delray Beach from actually being the change agent. Therefore, how the City deals with the issues and solves the problems presented to it does create opportunities for a Leadership role in facilitating change. Sometimes this is done through decisions to fund charities and education programs.

Q: How can the SUD TALK forum help change fears and create partnerships?

In the recent past, these conversations would never have happened in a public forum. As bridges are built between the Industry and Government, the fears and threats can be reduced. If the Industry demonstrably participates in solving problems that contribute to fears, the residents in the community will be commensurately less threatened and hostile. As this process continues, the Industry will get closer to assimilation. SUD Talks will help bring to the public the necessary recovery industry, which is not necessarily welcome and provides the opportunity to continue to build bridges through education and the opportunity for open dialogue.

Q: How is change occurring in the City of Delray Beach currently that impacts the Industry?

The media covers tragic events that add to the fear and resentment of the Industry. The benefits and life-saving daily work of ethical providers occurs behind the scenes, and is not known to the general populace.

At present, the Delray Beach Drug Task Force is the primary agent of change in this city. They have addressed the problems of displaced residents, have partnered with our First Responders to positively impact the Fentanyl/Heroin deaths, and have taken action on Patient Brokering and other insurance frauds, which harm Industry consumers.

Q: Why did you feel it was important to be part of the inaugural launch of SUD Talks?

The problems from Substance Use Disorder negatively affect this community in many ways. The City must support the programs and initiatives that can reduce public harms. More progress can be made through partnerships & cooperation. SUD Talks is the opportunity for the City to benefit from the collection of Industry professionals who seek change.

Q: What impact can changing the way we “view and treat” Substance Use Disorder have in our community and as a nation?

The City of Delray Beach has been awarded two All American City Awards. With the myriad of complex issues at hand, the “Delray-Way” has always been to wrestle with the problems, involve stakeholders, and develop strategies and solutions to improve conditions for all residents. The City of Delray Beach has taken the lead for consumer protection in Florida through drafting and lobbying for the passage of state legislation, HB-21, and with the Delray Beach Drug Task Force, more works like SUD Talks will bring the issues to the table. The City of Delray Beach will continue to lead the way, with the Industries’ participation and assistance from ethical providers. This will help to educate the public, open dialogue, reduce fears, and help consumers. Ultimately, the goal is to reduce the stigma by providing environments conducive to sobriety, which in turn reduces relapse and improves our community and our nation by saving lives.


Hanley Center Foundation

Q: What segment of the Industry is your organization most passionate about impacting change? And why?

The Hanley Center Foundation’s mission is to give hope to individuals, families and communities affected by alcoholism and drug addiction through access to high quality treatment, family support and community prevention programs. This year marks a new era for our Foundation and an expanded mission. Funds raised by Hanley Center Foundation now have a more broad opportunity to help families who otherwise could not afford the hope that comes with recovery. Other funding now gives our prevention and education teams the opportunity to work with even more school-age children, adults and caregivers throughout Florida to prevent substance abuse.

Q: Why is the SUD Talk topic you have selected important to “create change” in the Industry?

While two-thirds of older patients experience early-onset addiction, one-third of older adult addicts suffer from late-onset addiction. Major life changes, such as the loss of a loved one, can send a bereaved person spiraling into maladaptive behaviors and substance use disorder.

Misconceptions about older adult addiction are prevalent. The reality is that the difference between active addiction and treatment can be loss of life. Dr. John Dyben’s topic, “Aging and Addiction: Myths and Reality” focuses on a population often overlooked and misdiagnosed.

Q: How does your organization currently “create change” for the betterment of the Industry?

The days of ‘just say no’ have evolved, so our prevention teams are on the front lines with new ways to impact today’s kids. Our prevention messages effectively teach students both the real physical effects of consuming alcohol and other substances, as well as the social and emotional effects kids think happen when they drink or use. Starting with this current school year, Hanley Center Foundation’s prevention funding is providing programming to serve more than 40,000 students in nine Florida counties over the next three years.

Q: Why did you feel it was important to be part of the inaugural launch of SUD Talks?

The attendees and participants of SUD Talks are an audience who understand the importance of a foundation dedicated to quality addiction treatment access and substance abuse prevention. They understand the stories behind statistics like “addiction conservatively impacts one in four Americans.” Unfortunately, they all know too well how important prevention and education efforts are in our communities. We are excited to play a part in this inaugural effort because everything we do is driven by our commitment to our mission. We know that we will only be successful if we look for ways to work with great community partners, like the participants in SUD Talks.

Q: What impact can changing the way we “view and treat” Substance Use Disorder have in our community and as a nation?

At Hanley Center Foundation we are proud to work with local and statewide public and private schools to educate and prevent substance abuse. Our teams of experts understand the importance of education and through our research-based prevention programming, we have helped many children and adults better understand drug and alcohol abuse. Events like the SUD Talks get people talking about substance abuse, and the more people are talking, the better chance we have at breaking down the stigma that still comes with the disease of addiction.