Prevention Awareness Day at the Statehouse 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016 

9 a.m.—4 p.m. 


Featuring special guest 

Dr. Bertha Madras 

Professor, Dept. of Psychiatry 

Harvard Medical School 

Together we will educate legislators about how substance abuse prevention improves health, saves money and strengthens communities. 

Substance Abuse Prevention advocates to visit State House, learn about latest marijuana research and celebrate Prevention Champions.

Advocates from across the state will attend Prevention Awareness Day at the State House on Wednesday, January 27, to spread the word about how our communities benefit from the work of the substance abuse prevention coalitions.   Twenty-four coalitions in Vermont work with thousands of volunteers, from a great variety of constituencies, to prevent substance abuse. 

The annual event is organized by Prevention Works! VT, a network of coalitions and community efforts across VT that work to decrease the prevalence of tobacco use, drug use, underage drinking and high-risk drinking in Vermont, especially among youth and young adults.

Highlights of the 2016 event include:

  • Displays by youth coalition members who have taken action to help their peers make healthy choices and improve the health and safety of their communities.  
  • Prevention Champion awards to recognize and celebrate the achievements of those working in the field of drug abuse prevention in Vermont.  This year’s Prevention Champions are:

Dawn Poitras – President of Association of Student Assistance Professionals VT and Student Assistance Professional at Spaulding High school and Barre Town School.

Mark Weikert – President of the Vermont Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation & Dance and Physical Education teacher at Flood Brook Union School.

Twin Valley High School Pride Group –  A southern Vermont chapter of a national youth organization whose mission is to educate, promote, and support drug-free youth who organize to protect the safety and health of themselves, and their peers, family, and community.

  • Presentations by Bertha K. Madras, PhD, professor of psychobiology in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.  While at the State House, Dr. Madras will speak about the myths v. reality of marijuana, the biology of marijuana, consequences of marijuana legalization, the latest top cannabis research, including emerging evidence that increasing marijuana use is priming populations for more opiate addiction.

Dr. Madras is a neuroscientist, author, educator, and public policy expert.  She served as Deputy Director for Demand Reduction in the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), a position unanimously confirmed by the US Senate.  At ONDCP, her public health approach to Demand Reduction featured medicalization of Screening, Brief Intervention, Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) services. She spearheaded approval of SBIRT CPT® Medicaid and Medicare billing codes, web-based screening/training, and a UN endorsement of SBIRT.

Her discoveries in addiction neurobiology and pharmacology informed her development of candidate medications and brain imaging probes, the latter widely used in clinical research of drug mechanisms, neurotoxicity, Parkinson’s disease diagnosis, ADHD, other neuropsychiatric disorders.  Her current research focuses on molecular adaptations which conceivably alter the trajectory of brain development in adolescent drug users.

Dr. Madras holds 19 patents for novel brain imaging agents and candidate therapeutics. In public service, she has delivered over 250 public presentations globally, and developed a museum exhibit and a CD (licensed by Disney), with the Museum of Science, Boston. A recipient of an NIH MERIT award, NIDA Public Service Award, American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry Founders’ Award, and others, her brain imaging agent altropane, was listed by The Better World Report as “one of 25 technology transfer innovations that changed the world”.

She has promoted effective forms of prevention and deterrence, including biometric testing in schools, in the work-place, and expansion of treatment access, via drug courts and the Access to Recovery program. In resonance with her background, she has encouraged evidence-based treatment programs and has advocated for publication of effective government programs to encourage best practices.

The event begins at the State House at 9 a.m. and continues until 4 p.m.

You do not need to pre-register for the event, but if you have questions, please email

You can learn more about Dr. Madras at