The Battle Against Opioid Addiction

Spectrum is heavily engaged in the ongoing battle to reduce opioid abuse and related fatalities across the country.  The death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman spotlighted what we already knew in the field—that opioid addiction is not limited to the urban core of American culture.addiction opioid

Spectrum’s President & CEO Chuck Faris recently spoke about the impact of opioid abuse across the country.  “It impacts the lives of Americans in every state, in every region, and from every background and walk of life.  Astonishingly, it is the field of addiction treatment that is one of the first to see budgets underfunded and even cut despite the needs of individuals with addictions.”

To that point, Mr. Faris recently testified in front of the Massachusetts Special Committee on Drug Abuse and Treatment Options.  “There are 30,000 admissions a year for detox, but only 400 post-detox stepdown beds and 2,200 beds for residential care in the state.”  He called for lawmakers to reverse the proposed $3 million cuts to the Department of Public Health's Bureau of Substance Abuse Services for fiscal 2015. “Patients become frustrated waiting for authorizations and end up foregoing treatment,” he concluded. 

As an organization, Spectrum is pursuing additional treatment locations to help address the gross unmet need for opioid treatment.  Spectrum will open the doors to its ninth outpatient treatment center later this spring.  Outpatient centers specialize in providing much needed medication-assisted treatment for the growing number of individuals with opioid addictions. 

Spectrum’s Peer Recovery Support Center Everyday Miracles is also working to help address the opioid epidemic.  Everyday Miracles will participate in the Massachusetts Opioid Abuse Prevention Collaborative (MOAPC) Grant Program.  The purpose of the MOAPC Grant Program is to implement local policy, practice, systems and environmental change to prevent the use and abuse of opioids, prevent and reduce fatal and non-fatal opioid overdoses, and increase both the number and capacity of municipalities across the Commonwealth addressing these issues. The goal is to develop a Strategic Plan utilizing the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration’s (SAMHSA) Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF) that articulates a vision and strategies for coordinating, organizing and implementing prevention/reduction efforts across the region.

We want to hear from you. What are you doing or what are your programs doing to help address the prevalence of opioid abuse across the country? Email us so we can continue to share and learn from other areas.  Our email address is

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Our Daughter Sara — From the Parents' Perspective

Like many parents of children with substance abuse, we saw the signs but did not want to acknowledge that this was happening to our child. We are the first to admit that we were enablers and rather than ask the really tough question about her problems, we instead supported her financially when she could not pay her bills even when we thought that the money was not being used as intended.

We eventually made the decision to go to court to get her admitted to treatment in order to get the treatment she needed. We had tried treatment once before, utilizing another treatment facility but Sara did not respond to the treatment in the way we had hoped. Sara likes to be in control and surrendering her rights in order to receive treatment was a difficult decision for her. Needless to say that Sara was apprehensive but eventually agreed to receive treatment for her addiction.

Through sharing our concerns with family members, we found and contacted Michael Stuart on Labor Day 2013 looking for help for our daughter.  Rather than go through the court process which would require Sara to be treated at a state-run facility, it was decided to get her into Spectrum’s long-term residential program.

The first few weeks of the program were especially challenging for Sara.  She wanted to go home and struggled with wanting to leave the challenging and demanding program.  That was seven months ago, but Sara stuck it out and with the help of staff and her peers Sara has grown in many ways.  Sara has developed new coping skills to deal with emotions and feelings that had previously led her to use opiates.  She has also worked on her impulsivity and now better responds to day-to-day stressors and triggers.  

Today, Sara is a leader and role model in the program, always taking on new responsibilities and helping her peers.  Furthermore, Sara was accepted into the re-entry phase, and is now working locally, paying treatment fees and saving money in order to transition into her own apartment or sober housing.

We have re-established our relationship with her and could not be happier with her progress.  We know this is a life-long journey but seeing the results that Sara has achieved we know that she is on the right track to getting her life back in order.

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Coming this May, Spectrum will launch a new treatment program serving youth with co-occurring substance abuse and mental illness.  The new program will be the first of its kind in Massachusetts. 

Spectrum's Recovery through Education, Adventure, Commitment and Health (REACH) program will be transformed from a staff-secure residential substance abuse treatment program for detained male youth into a best-practice model for integrated care, a process involving several new staff members, extensive staff training and a new federal grant award. 

Funded in part by a $350,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, the new program will address the particular circumstances of youthful male offenders with co-occurring disorders.  It will use the highly regarded Adolescent Community Reinforcement Approach (A-CRA) and the companion Assertive Continuing Care (ACC) model to reduce criminal activity and support ongoing recovery throughout treatment and community reentry. 

The high prevalence of substance abuse and mental illness in this population can be seen through data collected by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).  In the 2010 - 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), State Estimates of Substance Use and Mental Disorders, SAMHSA found Massachusetts had among the highest rates in the country in the following categories: Alcohol Dependence or Abuse in Past Year among Youths Aged 12 to 17; Illicit Drug Dependence or Abuse in the Past Year among Youths Aged 12 to 17; and, Had at Least One Major Depressive Episode in the Past Year among Youths Aged 12 to 17.  Importantly, the NSDUH also found Massachusetts was in the top fifth for Needing But Not Receiving Treatment for Illicit Drug Use in the Past Year among Youths Aged 12 to 17. 

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Dennis Theriault Rejoins Spectrum

Early this Spring, Dennis Theriault returned to Spectrum as the Executive Director of Quality Improvement and Corporate Compliance.  Dennis had previously served as Spectrum’s Quality Improvement Director and Community Resource Center Program Director over 13 years.  We recently caught up with him to talk about his new executive-level position at the company:

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How has your role changed since rejoining Spectrum?
Much of my role will be dedicated to overseeing the implementation of new quality improvement initiatives and systems across the organization.  I will also oversee the majority of responsibilities related to compliance, such as program licensure, compliance auditing, ensuring adherence to licensing, regulatory and accreditation requirements and related duties.  In this new role, I will work closely with Spectrum’s Behavioral Health Informatics Manager to ensure surveys, data reports, and other quality improvement-related items are received and reviewed in an orderly and expeditious manner. 

Does your new role include frequent site visits?
Yes, site visits are a core function of this position as it is one of the best ways to be pro-active in our approach to ensuring continual compliance with regulatory requirements and Spectrum standards. I will travel to sites across the country, as needed. 

One of Spectrum’s main goals has been the implementation of a certified Electronic Health Record (EHR) system. What can you tell us about that? How will that affect QI efforts in various Spectrum Programs?
I am glad to join the interdisciplinary team leading the EHR implementation.  Going live with this new system in our Massachusetts community-based programs will significantly enhance our ability to collect, retrieve and report high-quality program data.  We will soon have the ability to pull data from our electronic records without the need for separate and more labor-intensive data tracking systems and tracking logs.  It also gives us the ability to pull reports on any inputted data at any point, greatly improving our anticipated response time.

What are your top priorities for the next 6 months?
During the next six months, I will be deeply involved in preparations for CARF accreditation in our Massachusetts community-based programs as well as our Georgia prison-based residential programs. I also plan to work with programs to improve their ability to manage their own data collection and reporting systems.  This will include working with program staff to develop effective tools for tracking data, practical methods for recording data and simple processes for reporting data.  Protocols will be written, and on-site training and ongoing support will be provided. Another priority for the coming months is to roll-out dashboard reporting where we will create reports that look similar to a “dashboard” in one’s car.  This will help facilitate quick review of program performance throughout our organization. 

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Georgia Integrated Treatment Facility Welcomes Judge Sams

Spectrum’s integrated treatment program for female probationers in Georgia received a visit from a prestigious guest.  Superior Court Judge W. Fletcher Sams visited the West Central Integrated Treatment Facility for a tour and to speak with women he had sentenced to this innovative integrated treatment program. 

The integrated program, which began in July 2012, is specifically designed to address co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders prevalent among women in the Georgia correctional system.  It is the first program in the state to provide truly integrated treatment to female offenders with co-occurring disorders. West Central accommodates 138 female probationers at any given time. 

Judge Sams has a long and distinguished career in legal circles.  He previously served as Fayette County State Court Judge, District Attorney for the Griffin Judicial Circuit and Assistant District Attorney for the Waycross Judicial Circuit.  He also served as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District.

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At Work & In the Community

lynnleblancmarrone weboptmzIn a recent compliment to the caliber of clinical staff working throughout our Spectrum programs, Lynn LeBlanc-Marrone, the Clinical Supervisor at Spectrum’s Lincoln Street Outpatient Treatment Center, was asked to lead a training session for industry professionals at the Aaron T. Beck Institute for Cognitive Studies at Assumption College.  These trainings are renown for their intensive instruction in clinical topics that enhance the professional skills of counselors and social workers. 

Lynn’s training entitled “Effective Treatment Interventions for Substance-related and Addictive Disorders” was held on Friday, April 4th and included continuing education credits (CEUs) for attendees.  At the training, Lynn introduced a number of evidence-based interventions used in the treatment of alcohol and drug addictions emphasizing that a clinician does not need to be an addiction specialist to effectively intervene with individuals suffering from substance use disorders.  

“Lynn was asked to present based on her years of practical experience and academic contributions as an Assumption professor;” said Spectrum’s Director of Outpatient Operations Lisa Blanchard.  “We are incredibly proud of her contributions at the clinic and in the community and enjoy having her on our team!”

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Bright Futures

Spectrum just launched a new program in Massachusetts aimed at providing family-focused residential substance abuse treatment for youth from across the state.  Funded by the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services (DYS), Bright Futures is dedicated to serving DYS-committed male youth with substance use disorders who are 16-18 years old.  

The primary goal of the program is to reduce the risk of relapse to drugs and alcohol among this high-risk population.  The program also strives to teach pro-social skills that assist youth in maintaining a healthy and productive lifestyle.

According to Spectrum’s Director of Youth Services and Peer Recovery Mark Brown, “A hallmark of Bright Futures is the program’s utilization of the Family Support Network (FSN) approach which employs multiple interventions aimed at improving the family context in which adolescent recovery takes place."

In addition to the family component, all youth participate in a structured weekly schedule consisting of individual counseling, group meetings, life skills training, academic instruction and recreational activities.  Emphasis is also placed on relapse prevention strategies and continuing care planning in order to facilitate successful community reintegration.  A concrete and practical continuing care plan is developed by all youth to ensure sustained recovery and positive community living upon discharge.

The typical length of stay at the program is three to four months.

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Events Calendar

April 24
SUPER Training on Mindfulness led by Spectrum’s VP of Clinical Development Romas Buivydas, PhD
Location: Clark University, 333 Turnpike Road, Southborough, Massachusetts
Time: 9:30am – 12:30pm

May 22
SUPER Training on Motivational Interviewing led by Inpatient Clinical Director Kendra Marien, LICSW
Location: Clark University, 333 Turnpike Road, Southborough, Massachusetts
Time: 9:30am – 12:30pm 

August 24
Dr. Buivydas will present at the National Conference on Addictions Disorders.  The presentation is entitled Overcoming Obstacles in the Treatment of Emerging Adults
Location: St. Louis Union Station Hotel, St. Louis, Missouri
Time: 2:15pm – 3:45pm

September 12
Dr. Buivydas will present on Overcoming Obstacles in the Treatment of Young Adults as part of the 27th Annual Cape Cod Symposium on Addictive Disorders
Location: The Resort and Conference Center, Hyannis, Massachusetts
Time: 1:45pm – 3:15pm

September 25
SUPER Training on An Innovative Intervention Model to Assist Women Survivors of Sexual Exploitation led by Athena Haddon, Everyday Miracles Program Director
Location: Clark University, 333 Turnpike Road, Southborough, Massachusetts
Time: 9:30am – 12:30pm

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The Courage Within

Melissa Meymaris from our Maine Assessment and Reentry program was recognized by the Maine Department of Correction (DOC) for her part in diverting a potentially dangerous situation with an inmate.  Melissa’s DOC Unit Manager sent this note in recognition of her courage and quick thinking.

“I wanted to commend Melissa Meymaris for her actions yesterday in response to a prisoner’s imminent thoughts of self-harm.  Melissa’s perceptiveness and quick action likely prevented a very serious cut up or worse.  Her work in supporting the inmates through both chronic and acute issues is exceptional and essential to the success of the Dorm 3 program.  I appreciate her work in general and admire her actions from yesterday specifically.”

We echo the sentiments of the DOC and Spectrum State Director Tom Kelly who extends his appreciation for Melissa’s continued excellent work.

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2014 Woman of Consequence

dsc 2954 2Athena Haddon, Director of Spectrum’s Peer Recovery Support Center in Worcester, Massachusetts, has been named the 2014 Woman of Consequence by the City of Worcester.

“This award recognizes individuals that show exceptional leadership and tangible results as an agent of change in Worcester,” said Mark Brown, Spectrum’s Director of Youth Services and Peer Recovery. “Athena was selected for her extraordinary contributions to developing new programs and services on behalf of women in need.  Her years of work have inspired many women to make positive change in their lives.”

Athena was honored at the 17th Annual Women of Consequence Award Ceremony at Worcester City Hall on March 20th.

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Shout Outs

A number of new faces have joined Spectrum’s Washington State workforce.  Please join me in welcoming the following individuals: Keith Schmaljohn and Kyle Bowers, Chemical Dependency Professional Trainees (CDPT) at Coyote Ridge Correction Center; Cynthia Gaertner, CDPT at the Washington State Penitentiary; Connie Jeffries, Chemical Dependency Professional (CDP) at the Progress House Work Release; Ashley Updike, CDPT at the Bellingham Field Office; Erin Raymond, Administrative Technician, and Mitchell Brown, CDP, at Mission Creek Correction Center; Bonnie Ann Scott, CDP at Everett Community Justice Center; Randi Royce, CDPT at Everett Community Justice Center; Robert Woodland, CDP at Bishop Lewis Work Release; Douglas Sams, CDPT at Airway Heights Correction Center; Lanetta Riley, CDPT at Burien Field Office; Mary Fairfield, CDPT, Mary Williams, CDPT, and Brian Keck, CDP, at the Seattle Community Justice Center; Christine Jason, Assessment CDP at the Lacey Campus; Katrina Sartain, CDPT at Reynold’s Work Release; Darrell Chambers, CDP at Stafford Creek Correction Center; Jala Waleed, CDP at Helen B Ratcliff Work Release; Susan Hall, Assessment CDP at the Lynnwood Field Office; Angela Chambers, Assessment CDP at the Shelton Field Office; and Kelly Buechel, CDPT at the Montesano Field Office. Warm welcome to one and all!

Helping to attract a new group of quality professionals to Spectrum are those employees who participated in Spectrum’s Employee Referral Bonus program.  We recognize the following individuals for referring successful candidates to positions in Washington: Kippy Jones, Debby Jemeyson, Marla Cook, Jennfier Kahlenberg and Stephanie Puckett. Thank you for all that you do!

In Maine, we welcome the following new staff members: Christine Berube, Matt Steinback, Camille Woodard and Kristin Verbeck.  Welcome to Spectrum!

Also in Maine, CRA Counselor Matt Steinback has completed the training required to sit for his Certified Clinical Supervisor license and Counselor Kellie Westberry has submitted her application to test for the upcoming LADC exam.

In Iowa, Assessment Counselor Jennifer Floden recently graduated from the Iowa Department of Corrections (IDOC) pre-service class, receiving the highest score in the entire class.  Well done Jennifer!

Congratulations also go out to Meghan Francis at Everyday Miracles Peer Recovery Support Center in Massachusetts.  Meghan is now a Certified Yoga for 12-Step Recovery Instructor.  Meghan is also certified as a Holistic Wellness Coach, a “Yoga Fit” Yoga Instructor and a Reiki practitioner.  Well done Meg!

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