Ballad Promotes ‘Strong Futures’ Drug Treatment Program for Expectant Moms and Parents | Rogersville


Ballad Health officials were in Rogersville last week to brief lawyers, judges, police and local elected officials about the “Strong Futures” program, which offers outpatient drug addiction treatment to expectant mothers and parents of underage children.

The program is funded by a $ 7 million grant from the Department of Social Services.

Ballad Health Community Navigator Lea Anne Spradlen introduced the program to Hawkins County officials.

During her November 23 presentation at the Hale Springs Inn Spradlen, she noted that she was a court liaison for Strong Futures in Greene County, signing people up for the program four days a week.

While Strong Futures is currently based in Greene County, it is also available in Hawkins, Hamblen, Hancock, Sullivan, Washington, Unicoi, Carter, Johnson, and Cocke counties.

To date, 110 people have signed up for Strong Futures, but Spradlen said the goal is to increase that number to 375 by the end of 2022. To that end, she is personally promoting the program on a county-by-county basis.

A video of Spradlen’s presentation on November 23 in Rogersville can be viewed in the online version of this article at

Rogersville, Tennessee

23 November 2021

We want to prepare people for success

A drug addict offender is sentenced to the Strong Futures program in court, after which that mother or father is assessed. Spradlen said about half the time the assessment determines the offender needs in-patient drug treatment before starting Strong Futures.

“We want to prepare people for success, and sometimes getting straight out of jail or off the street to an outpatient environment is just too difficult,” Spradlen said. “… We have literally had people who did not have food for themselves or for their children, so we are responding to those needs for them as well. We also have our psychiatrist in our office who is also an addictologist so that we can do medical mental health management for moms and dads. Obviously, we don’t prescribe any narcotics, but we are able to meet their mental health needs.

Spradlen said program participants attend three or four days a week and are required to take certain steps, including classes in parenting, moral recognition therapy, rap therapy, Alcoholics Anonymous / Narcotics Anonymous meetings, Narcan training, health and wellness courses and financial well-being courses, among other life skills training.

The program also offers the opportunity to receive literacy assistance, GED courses and tests, post-secondary and vocational training.

“It’s not easy, and you know that with any treatment you have successes and failures, but we continue to work with these people,” said Spradlen. “We work with probation officers on a daily basis. If someone relapses, we communicate with the probation officer to prevent these people from raping and refer them to another inpatient treatment center whenever we can to try to make your job easier, not harder. .

“It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon”

To be eligible for the program, a person must be 18 years of age or older and be an expectant mother or parent of a child under 18. She must also be at or below the poverty line or benefit from Medicaid; Families first; Additional nutritional assistance; residing in Section 8 accommodation; and / or eligible for the National School Lunch Program or a free lunch at a reduced price.

The program also provides housing if needed for 6 to 15 months for expectant mothers and mothers with children aged 5 and under.

The life center has a capacity of 10 mothers and currently has six residents. Spradlen said.

Spradlen’s endorsement of long-term drug treatment comes from the voice of experience.

“I do what I do for a living because I am a living example of what the justice system can do to change someone’s life,” she said. “I became addicted to opioids and benzodiazepines after my daughter was born in 2009. It happened very quickly. These were my own prescriptions. I had never had addiction problems in all my life. This has led me down the path of being arrested for DUI three times.

She tried a 30-day treatment, a three-month treatment, and her last treatment lasted 14 months.

“If it hadn’t been for the district attorney’s office and my lawyer, I wouldn’t have had this opportunity to get the help I needed,” she added. “… What Ballad has achieved is longevity of treatment rather than short stays in treatment, that’s what is emotional. That’s why our program is designed to last up to 24 months. This does not mean that all convicted persons will be in our program for that long, but they can be. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon, and we realize that.


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