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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A Father’s Letter: What I’ve Learned at Learn to Cope

Learn to Cope is a non-profit support network funded by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health that offers education, resources, peer support and hope for parents and family members coping with a loved one’s addiction to opiates or other drugs.

Founded by Joanne Peterson in 2004, the organization has become a nationally recognized model for peer support with more than 7,000 members and numerous chapters located throughout Massachusetts. We often refer parents to this important resource knowing they’ll be in the company of individuals who can relate to the needs of a parent looking for answers and support.

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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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Understanding Spectrum’s Levels of Inpatient Care

At Spectrum we spend a significant amount of time thinking about, and planning our services to ensure the most complete continuum of care possible for our clients. We wanted to take a moment to describe the various levels of care found in our Massachusetts based inpatient programing, and show how each level can be a beneficial component of the recovery process.

Acute Detoxification Treatment
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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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Prison Rehabilitation Success: The Untold Story

As the presidential campaigns are starting and the candidates are formulating their battle strategies, criminal justice reform is the one place with surprising agreement. We see leaders and supporters of both parties joining forces to advance criminal justice reform and support treatment efforts throughout the system.

A number of historical developments have set the stage for the shift from being primarily “tough on crime” to effective treatment, but the critical role of substance abuse treatment in the history of rehabilitation in American Corrections is often overlooked. It is important to challenge this omission of the important role played by substance abuse treatment; primarily therapeutic communities (TCs) that have become the vanguard of effective rehabilitation in most U.S. prison systems. By focusing on treatment of substance abusers, a classification that includes most offenders and is highly correlated with recidivism, it became possible to introduce effective rehabilitation programming into prisons and to begin challenging the old adage that “nothing works in correctional rehabilitation”.

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The Digital Divide and Evolution of the Therapeutic Community

This blog is part of a series which examines the role of entrepreneurship in substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation. A key component of future success is engaging the “Digital Divide” that represents a significant vocational barrier for recovering individuals.

The Digital Divide represents the separation between individuals who know how to use a computer and appreciate the value of computer skills, and those who do not. It highlights who has access to information technology in various geographical regions, communities, and societies. Beyond looking at the connected and unconnected, the Digital Divide exemplifies major economic and social inequalities in the world today. Without access and the ability to use a computer, an individual is greatly restricted in their ability to be competitive in today’s world. This is especially true for criminal justice clients and individuals in recovery whose successful employment prospects are limited.

Over the years, the therapeutic community (TC) has evolved and gained acceptance as an effective substance abuse treatment model in prisons and community-based settings. As the TC continues to mature, some of its limitations for future success have become increasingly apparent. For one, many recovering individuals lack knowledge and ewhile knowledgeable about recovery and interpersonal relations skills, are much are less knowledgeable about technology. With the deepening Digital Divide separating the more educated and moneyed class from blue collar and less educated groups (that many recovery individuals come from) the vocational challenges intensify as many low tech technical jobs disappear.

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