By Elinor Keck, student news writer, Office of University Communications
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – Dr. Jason Roop, executive director of the Virginia Ponser Flanagan Technology Training Center, will be presenting his research at the 2023 National RX Summit in Atlanta in April.
Roop will be unveiling his trait-based recovery model after three years of research and data compilation. Roop’s presentation expands on his previous study, supported by additional data. His presentation is titled, “Addiction and Leadership: How Authentic and Transformative Leaders are Emerging from the Adversity of Substance Use Disorder.”
Roop was selected to be one of the 11 presenters, with more than 600 proposals submitted.
The Rx and Illicit Drug Summit, formerly the Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit, is the largest national public healthcare conference addressing the opioid and addiction crisis. Founded in 2012, the National RX Summit is produced by HMP Global and co-sponsored by the CDC. Past notable speakers include presidents Joe Biden, Donald Trump, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama as well as Melania Trump.
This year, President Biden will return to speak at the summit.
Roop began the study in 2019, approaching addiction prevention and recovery from a new perspective. Instead of disease or deficiency models that take a “bad” addict and bring them to sobriety, Roop said he wanted to identify the good qualities within people in active addiction.
“The hypothesis was that there’s something of value,” Roop said. “There’s treasure there in active addiction that can be enhanced in a more socially constructive or conducive pattern when someone is in recovery.
“So, we started a study and what was discovered was that people in addiction will have these tendencies, these inherent qualities, personality traits, character traits, that are great traits for anybody leading an organization.”
Over the course of three years, Roop conducted a series of interviews with participants who had backgrounds of addiction and were serving in leadership capacities. He also created a focus group of people who had been in recovery for six months and directed a study of those people in their daily lives.
From interviews and notes, Roop compiled more than a million words of data. From there, he identified 21 themes consistent in the lives of the study participants. These themes included persistence in the pursuit of goals, empathy, resilience, grit and emotional intelligence.
“With that data, with those findings, you can safely say that (not everyone, we’re not saying this is a hundred percent), but you can safely say people in addiction hold these commonly shared traits with iconic top-level leaders,” Roop said.
Based on his research, Roop began developing the trait-based recovery model. After working with counselors to identify leadership traits, the addict in recovery will attend a leadership academy that teaches basic business skills, provides entrepreneurial opportunities and promotes self-realization, Roop said.
Current recovery programs promote medication or abstinence, but the results are mediocre, Roop said.
“It would be the model that begins on the good, and then that leads to an increased commitment to recovery,” Roop said. “There’s so much shame and stigma… Shifting the needle on how people see it is what I’m giving my life to it feels like.”
Roop submitted his proposal to the summit last year. He said that he didn’t think he would get accepted because it’s the “primetime event” in the field of addiction research. With subcommittees that reviewed all proposals, Roop’s proposal surfaced in each group to be recommended.
According to the summit’s website, “More than one million lives have been lost since the start of the opioid epidemic. Overdose deaths have reached record rates, and we can’t afford for more lives to be lost. It’s time to turn the numbers around.”
Roop’s passion for the prevention of drug abuse stems from his personal experience and 17 years in addiction. In college, Roop first sampled drugs to relieve anxiety, which led to full-blown addiction. Eventually, Roop found himself addicted to meth, and he was homeless. In October 2013, Roop went to the Isaiah House, a faith-based addiction treatment center, and has been sober ever since.
As executive director of the Technology Training Center, Roop gets to share his story to encourage others.
“In this area within the university we deal with a lot of adult learners, a lot of people who are looking for second and third chances, or career changes,” Roop said. “I have the opportunity, the privilege, to encourage people who may feel like I did at once that there’s really no hope for the future. But I’ll gladly tell them there most definitely is.”
Roop earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Chemistry from Tusculum University in 1999 and a Master of Arts in Theology from Campbellsville University in 2018. He also earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Business Management with Specialization in Leadership from Campbellsville University in 2019.
Since 2017, Roop has served as the lead pastor of Asbury United Methodist Church in Campbellsville. He is married to Amanda Roop, consultant and student liaison in the Technology Training Center.
Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university that offers over 100 programs of study including doctoral, master, bachelor, associate and certificate programs. The website for complete information is www.campbellsville.edu.