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NEIAS: A Short History

The New England Institute was established as a private, non profit organization in 1969 by the State Alcohol and Drug Agency Directors of five of the six New England states. Massachusetts joined the partnership a couple of years later to make the organization a New England wide entity. The corporation sought to offer continuing education to enhance the skills of people working in the alcohol treatment field. Members of the Board reportedly contributed out of their own pockets to pay the initial incorporation fee of $55.

Throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s the New England Institute developed and delivered high quality, publicly supported training and education programs. The premier event was the annual Summer School. For many people entering the field as counselors or volunteers, this week long event served as an opportunity to immerse themselves in the core concepts of the field. It was an opportunity to meet others with similar interests, and make lasting professional contacts and friendships. A large percentage of those in attendance were members of the recovering community. The program grew in size to 500 people annually by 1989.

Throughout its development, the Institute has sought to identify and work in partnership with other organizations. It has established working partnerships with counselor organizations, treatment agencies, treatment associations, state agencies connected directly and indirectly with the field of substance abuse, higher education institutions, in-state continuing education providers, and national technical assistance contractors. Through the efforts of the Institute and other organizations, the New England region has become known for its collaboration and cooperation across systems and agencies in the substance abuse field. For over 20 years, NEIAS has maintained an office with professional staff in Augusta, Maine.

History of Education and Advocacy

Between 1998 and 2004, NEIAS used CSAT contract to develop and support a six state network of recovery community educators and advocates. During this period these organizations established the value of including recovery community input in key program and policy decisions in the substance abuse prevention and treatment field.

Even though federal funding expired in 2004, the good work of these groups, along with state agency financial support, has ensured that they continue to sustain themselves beyond the life of federal funding. NEIAS staff will continue to support collaboration of the groups across state lines, into the foreseeable future.

The Institute has collaborated with partners to support a number of international initiatives, including hosting delegations of substance abuse professionals from other countries at NEIAS programs and involvement in international conferences. NEIAS has supported several Institutes on chemical dependency to build an addiction workforce in Asia.


Today the New England Institute of Addiction Studies is dedicated to the education and of professionals, volunteers, and the general public concerning alcohol and drug prevention and addiction treatment issues. The Board of the New England Institute is made up of people with substance abuse prevention, treatment, and education expertise from across New England.

Continuing Education Opportunities

The Institute offers the following signature educational events per year. In 2015 the programs will include:
  • The 46th Annual New England School of Addiction and Prevention Studies - June 8 - 11, 2015, Worcester State University, Worcester, Massachusetts
  • The 23rd Annual New England School of Best Practices in Addiction Treatment - August 24 - 27, 2015, Waterville Valley Resort and Conference Center, Waterville Valley, New Hampshire

The Summer School

This 4 - day program serves over 500 participants annually, including 80 presenters, staff and volunteers. Approximately 60% of those who attend work as clinicians in the substance abuse treatment field. A large number of the 70 day long courses are devoted to teaching clinical concepts and skills, at levels ranging from basic to advanced.

The Prevention School

This event was developed through a technical assistance allocation from CSAP, which covers most of the costs of the presenters. The event emphasizes skill development for experienced prevention practitioners. It is planned by the National Prevention Network representatives and other organizational partners. It is now co-located with the larger Summer School

The School of Best Practices

This 4 day institute targets advanced clinical treatment professionals, and draws 200 people each year to the White Mountains of New Hampshire in August. It offers intense, skill building courses. In addition, there is the unique opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills taught in the classroom by completing assignments after the end of the program. These assignments are shared with the instructor and other members of the class through the use of e-mail and posting of assignments on websites for viewing by others. Participants report that this two part learning process allows for more complete learning and more efficient application of skills presented in courses.
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