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.

For Spectrum Health Systems, Treating Addiction Often Means Treating Trauma Too

For many of our clients, addiction is usually not an isolated problem. Many also experience mental health issues and the after-effects of physical and mental trauma. The Trauma-Informed Care Program, which we introduced last year, is designed to build understanding amongst our staff and enhance their ability to effectively interact with clients who have suffered from trauma in the past.

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The Opioid Epidemic Isn’t Easing Up – It’s Getting Worse

For a while now, public perception has been that the opioid epidemic is loosening its grip on the U.S., primarily due to a downward trend in opioid-related deaths. While fewer casualties is certainly promising news, addiction professionals have been cautioning the public that these statistics are because of the availability of the life-saving overdose-reversing drug Naloxone, rather than a reduction in harmful drug use.

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Get to Know Susan Panos, Our Regional Business Development Liaison

Spectrum Health Systems recently added Susan Panos to our Business Development team as Regional Business Development Liaison. To shine a light on our network of top talent in the company, this week’s Q&A dives into Sue’s background and what she loves the most about the behavioral healthcare field.

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Get to Know Cheryl Bedard, Regional Business Development Liaison

Cheryl Bedard has been instrumental in moving Spectrum Health Systems and the New England Recovery Center forward since she joined the organization in 2015. Today, we wanted to introduce her to you and shine a light on her important role.

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Examining Co-occurring Mental and Substance Use Disorders - A 3-Part Series

Part 1: The Challenge of Mental Illness in Substance Abuse Treatment

 

This is the first of three blogs to examine co-occurring mental and substance use disorders. In this first blog, we review the prevalence of mental disorders among persons in addiction treatment, myths related to mental illness, key problems and challenges, and how to accurately identify persons with mental disorders. A second blog will explore effective treatment strategies for this population, and a third blog will focus on the importance of continuing care and transition services for persons who have co-occurring disorders.

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Spectrum Experts Make a Case for Medication-Assisted Treatment in Prisons at Recent Corrections Conference

Earlier this month, our Vice President of Clinical Development Dr. Romas Buivydas and State Director of MA Correctional Services Earl Warren teamed up to present to attendees of the American Correctional Association’s winter conference about the importance of adopting medication-assisted treatment (MAT) in America’s prisons.

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Life Expectancy for Americans Decreased for Second Straight Year, Due to the Opioid Epidemic

The Centers for Disease Control recently released a shocking report about the decline in American life expectancy, a rate they haven’t seen since influenza ran rampant in 1962 and 1963, and during the worst of the AIDS epidemic back in 1993. In 2016, the CDC saw a staggering 21 percent death rate fueled by the opioid epidemic and it was the second year in a row that life expectancy decreased.

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Get to Know Lisa Blanchard, Spectrum’s New Vice President of Clinical Services

At Spectrum Health Systems, we put great confidence in our employees. Through various educational initiatives and a supportive company culture, we’ve cultivated a talent pool of which we’re very proud. Lisa Blanchard is a shining example of growth within Spectrum, and we’re thrilled to announce her promotion to Vice President of Clinical Services. Did you know she started as an intern? Learn more about Lisa and her path to the top below.

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Spectrum Health Systems on New England Cable News

You may have seen that opioid deaths are down in Massachusetts. It’s great news, but it’s not the whole story. To date, more than 1,400 residents have passed away from overdoses in 2017 and that’s still a very large number. Following the announcement of Governor Charlie Baker’s new plan to continue reducing overdose deaths, our CEO Kurt Isaacson joined Mike Nikitas of New England Cable News (NECN) to discuss the hard work still ahead of us.

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Project Turnabout Honored with Award from Association of Behavioral Health

On Friday, October 20th, the Spectrum Health Systems team traveled to Boston for an exciting event – the annual Association of Behavioral Health (ABH) Salute to Excellence ceremony. This year, one of our residential treatment programs, Project Turnabout, won the “Excellence in Best Practices” award. As a long-time provider of addiction treatment dedicated to providing the highest quality of care, it was an honor for our staff to be recognized for their outstanding accomplishments by the leading behavioral healthcare advocacy organization in Massachusetts.

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Looking for a Treatment Center? Make Sure It’s CARF Accredited

Spectrum Health Systems and the New England Recovery Center take great pride in being Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) accredited addiction treatment providers. We work hard to ensure all our services, operations and employees are top-notch and up to standard every single day, because we believe it’s an essential component of good treatment. So, we sat down with our resident accreditation expert, Dennis Theriault, to share some important information with you.

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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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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.

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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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Help, Not Handcuffs: Finding an Ally in Blue

They’re some of the first to arrive at the scene when there is a critical overdose, a person in need, or a troublesome situation. While some find comfort with the men and women on the front lines of the opioid epidemic, it can be a contentious relationship for others.

For someone struggling with an addiction, asking for help in general can be daunting, but asking for help from the police sounds like a one-way ticket to jail. On the contrary, many people suffering from addiction and searching for help are finding some of their best allies in their local police force, and that relationship is spreading around the country.

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How to Recognize “Sticks and Stones” in Your Home

While many of our blog posts revolve around addiction and recovery, today’s post focuses on another serious problem that takes place in many homes – and that problem is domestic violence.

Spectrum Health Systems is well known for its addiction treatment programs, but many don’t realize that we also offer a range of programming that tackle various related issues, such as domestic violence, impaired driving, anger management and sex solicitation.

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Changing Prisons in Virginia

Spectrum has joined with the Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC) in an important experiment with the potential of impacting prison systems throughout the country by reframing the mission and function of prisons. A powerful combination of circumstance has aligned in Virginia where Spectrum Health Systems operates a 1,080 bed Therapeutic Community treatment program at Indian Creek Correctional Center (ICCC) -- a mission specific institution and one of the few and largest treatment dedicated prisons in the country. The VADOC is committed to reform and has shown strong interest in re-envisioning ICCC into a robust “Launchpad” that maximizes inmates’ opportunities for success. The VADOC has evolved a strong network of community agencies that are dedicated to support successful inmate reentry providing a well-suited environment for the new prison “prototype.”

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Prisons as a Launch Pad

At this point in history when there is a growing consensus for prison reform, we have an opportunity for making systemic change that can impact great numbers of inmates by re-envisioning prisons as “launch pads” for success. We believe this is feasible through a well-designed integration of the self-help therapeutic community (TC) model and a strong network of community and prison training resources within a correctional system that is primed for prison reform and reentry success.
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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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