Blog: News & Views from the Field

Knowledge can be empowering. Whether you are seeking recovery for yourself or someone else, we hope you find our blog topics helpful. Check back often or subscribe today.

Celebrating Progress and Looking Back at National Recovery Month 2017

Every September, the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) sponsors National Recovery Month to raise awareness and understanding of mental health and substance use disorders, and celebrate people who are living in recovery. As we head into October, we wanted to reflect on Recovery Month and the importance of educating the public about drug addiction, treatment and recovery.

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Go Golf, Give Back

You are cordially invited to an upcoming special event — Spectrum Health Systems' 16th Annual Charity Golf Tournament & Fundraiser! This fun, fundraising event is happening Monday, October 16th at the prestigious Worcester Country Club, a private country club and golf course in Worcester, Massachusetts.

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Heroin(e): A Harrowing but Optimistic Look at the Opioid Epidemic

A new documentary has been added to Netflix’s lineup and it's worth a watch. Heroin(e), directed by Elain McMillion Sheldon, follows three brave and compassionate women as they battle addiction in the City of Huntington, West Virginia – the overdose capital of the country. In 2015, the city’s overdose rate was ten times the national average.

The film shines a light on the nation’s opioid epidemic in a very personal way. The women – a fire chief, a missionary and a drug court judge – are compassionate, funny and smart and they form strong bonds with local people struggling with addiction. This allows for real and well-rounded depictions of the struggles and triumphs associated with substance use disorders, not often shown on TV.

There is education and a healthy debate around the overdose reversing drug naloxone, honesty and understanding around relapse, and a humanizing portrayal of people struggling to overcome addiction and stay sober.

Heading into Netflix season, we suggest everybody touched by addiction adds this to their queue and shares it with a friend –especially since Massachusetts is also well over the national average for overdose deaths.

If you or someone you love is struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction, call Spectrum Health Systems today and an admissions counselor will find the right course of treatment for you. We can be reached 24/7 at (800) 366-7732.

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Get to Know David Nefussy, Spectrum’s New Vice President of Business Development

In case you missed it, we recently hired a new Vice President of Business Development, David Nefussy, to help Spectrum Health Systems continue to promote its mission while providing quality addiction treatment services amidst the ongoing opioid crisis. In addition to leveraging his relationships with managed care organizations, insurance companies, and private sector providers to expand our network, one of David’s key tasks will be to function as a liaison to the provider community.

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What Is Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) And Why Do Our Prisons Need It?

Last month, our Vice President of Clinical Development, Dr. Romas Buivydas, and State Director for Massachusetts’ Correctional Services, Earl Warren attended the American Correctional Association (ACA) conference in St. Louis, Missouri. While there, they led a workshop designed to educate the audience of non-clinical corrections professionals about Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) for addiction and substance use disorders.

While MAT has been a strong component of recovery for individuals struggling with opioid addiction for many years, it is relatively new to the correctional field. Medication-assisted treatment has not been widely adopted in the prison system as of yet, but the tide is changing. Today, 21 jail re-entry programs are working to incorporate it.

Oftentimes, when it is administered to inmates, line staff does not fully understand the science of addiction and the medications available for treating it. MAT differs from traditional abstinence-based treatments in a variety of ways. Its primary role is to ease the symptoms of withdrawal, reduce cravings and stabilize co-occurring disorders such as anxiety or depression. It also reduces drug use, protects against overdoses, prevents dangerous injections and reduces criminal behavior.

There are three different options for MAT – methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone. Each is administered differently, and treatment is based upon an individual’s use history, mental health status and unique circumstances. This treatment should only be given in addition to traditional recovery work and therapy.

Due to the client base and secure environment, deploying MAT in the prison system has different layers of complexity, but programs should seriously consider the positive effects of treatment. Without it, inmates suffering cravings have no relief. During this period of abstinence, inmates lose their tolerance to their preferred substance, thereby increasing the likelihood of an overdose when they return to using drugs after their release. The likelihood that a client treated with MAT in prison will seek continued treatment upon release is far higher than an inmate who only received abstinence-based services.

By using medication and therapeutic approaches, correctional facilities can prevent overdose, treat struggling inmates with every tool available and help people transition to their communities with a strong sense of sobriety, confidence and connections to treatment.

To learn more about medication-assisted treatment and Spectrum’s work in corrections, visit our website today. Stay tuned for an in-depth look at the three different types of medication available to treat addiction in a future blog in the coming weeks.

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An Inside Look: Clinical Stabilization

Detoxification is often a necessary first step for individuals seeking help for an addiction. Once detoxification is completed, it’s very important to continue treatment for a period of time in order to build a solid foundation for sustaining long-term recovery. Spectrum provides a range of continuing care options, including two programs offering clinical stabilization services (CSS).

CSS is designed to stabilize clients, engage them in treatment and facilitate placement to the next level of care. These services are available to privately insured individuals and Department of Public Health (DPH) clients.

The typical length of stay for clients in our clinical stabilization program ranges from 14-18 days for those with private insurance and up to 28 days for Medicaid recipients. Length of stay also depends on the needs of each client.

Upon admission, clients undergo a medical evaluation to ensure that they are medically stable and eligible for program participation – that is, having no substances in their system and not experiencing any withdrawal symptoms.

During program participation, clients attend two group sessions per day for an hour each, seven days a week. These educational sessions cover a variety of topics including overdose prevention, how to resist cravings, coping skills and relapse prevention. In addition to group sessions, we require each client to meet individually with their counselor for at least one hour per day. Interdisciplinary team meetings are held at least two times per week to review and evaluate each client’s treatment plan and assess their progress. We also encourage family involvement throughout the treatment process.

Spectrum recognizes that lasting recovery is an ongoing process and that treatment is only the first step to a permanent lifestyle change. Therefore, one of the most important components of the CSS program is the development of a continuing recovery plan to support the individual during early recovery and beyond.

Our seamless continuum allows clients to remain onsite while transitioning from inpatient detoxification to clinical stabilization to residential treatment, as needed. Spectrum also operates a network of outpatient treatment centers across the state, as well as peer recovery support centers in Worcester, Marlborough and Lawrence.

Stay tuned for an upcoming blog featuring information about our residential treatment programs.

If you or someone you love needs help for an addiction, Spectrum Health Systems provides the support you need, when you need it. Learn more on our website or call us at (800) 366-7732 for inpatient services and (800) 464-9555 extension 1161 for outpatient treatment.

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An Inside Look: Inpatient Detoxification

For most people with substance use disorders, the first step to addiction recovery is detoxification or “detox” – the medical process of removing toxic substances from the bloodstream through abstaining from alcohol or drugs until it is completely free of toxins. It sounds simple, but the concept is especially daunting for somebody in the throes of addiction. To understand this process a bit better, this blog provides an inside look at Spectrum’s inpatient detoxification program.

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Opioid Epidemic Declared a National Emergency

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, nearly 35,000 people across America died from heroin or opioid overdoses in 2015, and a study released by the University of Virginia on Aug. 7th concluded the mortality rates were 24 percent higher for opioids and 22 percent higher for heroin than previously reported.

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Is Binge Drinking Considered Alcoholism If You’re A College Student?

Fall is around the corner and for many young people, it’s almost time to ship off to (or return to) college. They pack up their rooms, kiss mom and dad goodbye, and venture to a campus where they are testing out the freedom of (almost) adulthood. For most colleges and universities across the U.S., drinking alcohol is intertwined within the student culture, even though the legal age to consume alcohol in the U.S. is 21. Although beer pong and keg stands are ritual behavior for some college students, where do we draw the line between casual drinking and alcoholism? How do you know when to approach a fellow student about their over-the-top drinking?

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Demystifying intake: You do not need drugs in your system to be admitted to detox

The world of addiction is ripe with misconceptions and myths, but one particularly harmful one we’ve heard time and time again is the belief that you need to have drugs in your system to be admitted to treatment. This may cause vulnerable individuals struggling with addiction to seek out their drug of choice one last time. But that one last time could be fatal.

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