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.

Licensure and Accreditation of Substance Abuse Treatment Programs

While licensure and accreditation may not be the first things on your mind when researching an addiction treatment facility for you or a loved one, they are some of the many tools Spectrum Health Systems uses to ensure compliance with regulations and the most current best practices. Because of the importance we place on licensure and accreditation, we asked Spectrum’s Quality Assurance team to explain the various types of licensure and accreditation Spectrum relies upon to ensure that we’re providing the best possible treatment to all our clients.

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Opioid Abuse Law Deserves Applause

Governor Baker’s signing of legislation this week to combat the opioid epidemic represents an important step in the fight to end this ongoing tragedy. Today, on average four individuals a day in Massachusetts die from a fatal overdose of opiates. Non-fatal overdoses are as much as three to four times higher than that number each day, with most of these overdoses affecting young adults between 18 and 30 years of age. The strain on police and emergency responders is overwhelming for most communities. At Spectrum Health Systems we are experiencing an unprecedented demand for addiction treatment services at all levels — residential, inpatient and outpatient.
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Understanding Spectrum’s Outpatient Opioid Treatment - Part 2

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is available at Spectrum’s numerous outpatient treatment centers located throughout Massachusetts. Clients will receive a comprehensive clinical assessment, complete medical evaluation, medical monitoring, daily onsite dispensing, individualized treatment planning, educational services, and individual, group and/or family counseling. Active treatment planning and support services are also available to help ensure sustained recovery.

Spectrum offers same-day MAT admission according to a set schedule. This allows clients to complete the intake process and, if appropriate, receive their first treatment.
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Understanding Spectrum’s Outpatient Treatment for Opioid Addiction - Part 1: What is Medication-Assisted Treatment

The process where one becomes addicted to either opiates or opioids is very complex, involving significant changes to the brain in the areas responsible for processing pleasure. Even an individual committed to quitting the use of these drugs will likely find it difficult due to associated cravings and the fear of withdrawal. But like any chronic disease, treatment is available.

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is a highly effective form of treatment for opioid addiction. MAT includes the use of medications along with counseling and support from family and friends. It is available on an outpatient basis which allows individuals to remain productive while working to change problematic behaviors. Medications such as methadone and buprenorphine, opioids which effectively “trick” the brain into thinking it’s receiving the problem drug, or naltrexone which blocks the effects of problem drugs, are most commonly prescribed.
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Heroin Use In New England

Beginning in the 1990’s, availability and abundance of powerful opioid painkillers led to a new population struggling with opioid addiction throughout New England. While regulatory efforts to reduce the supply of painkillers entering the illicit market were often successful, heroin quickly became a substitute for prescription opioids as its price saw dramatic decreases over the last decade. Heroin is a highly addictive drug that continues to contribute to the staggering number of drug overdoses in New England.

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What is Narcan?

NARCANBy now we’ve all heard about naloxone, or Narcan as its commonly called in the news, but what is it really? And should you have some on hand if you or a loved one is suffering with opioid addiction? Narcan is a very effective medication used to reverse the effects of a potentially fatal opioid overdose. Historically Narcan was most often administered intravenously or subcutaneously, but as its popularity has grown amongst first responders and other emergency medical personnel, it is now found in auto-injectors (like an epi-pen for allergic reactions) and nasal applicators. The advent of nasal Narcan in particular, allows lay people to use it, making it an invaluable tool for those of us who have loved ones struggling with opioid addiction or are struggling with the disease ourselves.

Availability

Narcan is a drug and therefore it’s regulated by the FDA in the United States. While it is not a controlled substance, it is a prescription medication which a doctor can prescribe for you (like that epi-pen we mentioned earlier). But many states have responded to the nations growing opioid crisis by issuing what is in essence a standing prescription for the drug, so anyone can go into a pharmacy and purchase it directly from the pharmacist without a prescription written in your name. Laws differ from state to state and are changing quickly, but the LawAtlas keeps a very good collection of current laws where you can check the status of laws in your state.

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On Mindfulness, Acceptance, and Addictive Thinking

When mindfulness practice, a non-judgmental, observational approach, is incorporated into addiction treatment, a client can utilize the power of conscious thought and action to replace identification with addictive impulses and behaviors. Or more simply, the practice of mindfulness can help our clients experience a deep connection with the present moment. This is in contrast to the characteristic patterns of addictive thinking, which often includes rumination about the past and future, obsessive cravings, and distracted attention. Scans conducted on individuals who practiced only 10 hours overall of mindfulness already demonstrate differences in the neurochemistry of their brain.

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