New addiction treatment program in Family Drug Court addresses the whole family

GREENFIELD — Swept up in the hurrah of $2.1 million from the federal government for the Franklin Family Drug Court was an evidence-based program that would act as the backbone of the grant to fight the opioid epidemic. The founding doctor behind it, Dr. David Smelson, based out of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, said that although this program, known as “MISSION,” has had proven results since around the turn of the millennium, it has never done exactly what it is now signed up for: apply a model meant for individuals now for the whole family.

“It’s even more of a pilot than you think,” Smelson said.

The program will build on an existing one-year model at the new family court, bolstering the program with four full-time hired hands and a quarter-time nurse, who can provide consultations and write needed prescriptions. The court will likely begin the hiring process in October, the Opioid Task Force said.

MISSION stands for Maintaining Independence and Sobriety through Systems Integration, Outreach and Networking. The full name of the program indicates the wide variety of resources the program taps into in pursuit of an alternative solution for addiction treatment.

“The question is how do we work with the family court?” Smelson said. “Once we’ve pilot tested our model, then we’ll have a better sense of what outcomes we can predict with a new population.”

Smelson is not concerned that his program won’t work. After all, the federal government forked over funds for five years for a reason, convinced by the grant that this program will yield results. He’s just making it clear that MISSION will be in uncharted waters when it comes to implementing its model.

There are six outcomes that the proposal to the government outlines, a laundry-list of short-term and long-term sought-after results that the Opioid Task Force’s coordinator and grant writer Debra McLaughlin pointed to as what they’re looking for to prove its success.


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