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OFFICERS ADDRESS ADDICTION AMONG
OFFENDERS THROUGH SPECIALIZED TRAINING
Nearly 400 Probation
Officers have become certified as Substance
Abuse Specialists to address the increase
in drug addiction and alcoholism among those
who are placed on probation supervision.
Eighty-six percent of adults placed on probation
in Massachusetts have substance abuse issues
which represents the highest percentage in
more than 15 years.
Abuse Specialist Training Program was created
in 2002 to give officers added knowledge
about how to handle addiction suffered by
the offenders they supervise.
To become a certified
Substance Abuse Specialist, a Probation Officer
must complete a four-day training program,
according to Chief Probation Officer Dan
Ryan who together with Regional Supervisor
Rick O'Neil developed the curriculum for
the training. The training program is the
brainchild of Ryan, an authority on substance
abuse and addiction.
Ryan based the
training on two key criteria: the intensity
and duration of the use of drugs and alcohol
among offenders and the lack of family connection
or support network.
abuse is a disease like cancer, like heart
disease, like hypertension. This training
underscores that this problem is a brain
disease and helps Probation Officers understand
how to help the people they supervise as
well as provide and/or direct them to the
necessary resources to help offenders and
their families manage this disease and reduce
offender recidivism," Ryan said.
training program teaches Probation Officers
how to apply the Supreme Judicial Court's
Standards on Substance Abuse to a case and
how to make verbal and written substance
abuse assessments for the court. Participants
explore the links between brain disease and
denial. They also learn about relapse and
recovery as well as change issues and how
to properly supervise a substance abuse case
as well as understand the relationship between
public safety and recovery issues.
abuse is not a character flaw. It is a chronic
relapsing brain disease," said Ryan. AThrough
this training and certification process,
Probation Officers receive the most up-to-date
information on how to address this issue
that is not only effecting probationers and
their families, it is plaguing society."