Marlborough hopes to hire substance use prevention coordinator

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Flags stand in front of the Walker Building. (Photos/Laura Hayes)
Flags stand in front of the Walker Building in 2021.
(Photo/Laura Hayes)

MARLBOROUGH – The city’s Health Department will soon add a substance use prevention coordinator and intervention specialist.

According to Director of Public Health John Garside, once the City Council approves the position, the Board of Health would advertise it “hopefully within a couple of months.”

During the City Council’s Sept. 13 meeting, the measure was sent to the Finance Committee, with words of support from City Councilors David Doucette and Mark Oram.

“I think this is a big win for addressing some of the needs in the community,” said Doucette.

“This is a needed position,” said Oram.

What the position would do

The new coordinator/specialist will work with the School Department, Police Department and the Marlborough Alliance for Prevention.

The position will be a 35-hour-per-week position supervised by the director of public health, with a starting salary of $58,000. Funding will derive from marijuana impact fees combined with national opioid settlement funds.

This position is new and was not part of a regional program,” said Garside. 

According to Garside, Marlborough belongs to a seven-town youth substance prevention group called Central MetroWest Substance Abuse Prevention Collaborative that is based out of Hudson that is funded by the state’s MassCALL grant. This position would specifically work with the group and represent the city. 

“Additionally, this position would represent the Marlborough Health Department and be a resource for the Marlborough Alliance for Prevention initiatives and activities,” Garside said. “This position would focus on substance use prevention across all ages and demographics in Marlborough.”

According to a draft job description provided by the Board of Health, the position will “oversee and implement citywide programs to reduce substance use amongst all Marlborough populations through education, prevention programs, direct interventions and counseling, as well as collaborate with and be actively involved with all Marlborough Alliance for Prevention activities.”

As part of its duties, the staff member will  coordinate a citywide program to reduce substance abuse through education, prevention programs, direct interventions and counseling and compile and evaluate data on youth substance risk issues.

They will collaborate with the schools to implement alcohol, tobacco and other prevention curriculum and develop and update school policies and procedures concerning tobacco, substance abuse and violence-related issues for students.

The coordinator/specialist will facilitate community education and engage the community through social media. They will also promote substance abuse programs to both families and individuals; provide assessments, consultations, intervention referrals and group and family counseling to youths and their families; and develop relationships in order to make referrals.

They will also provide support to Marlborough’s Post Overdose Response team. 

Job requirements include a bachelor’s degree in public health, behavioral science or a related field, with at least two years of experience in public health or related field. Certification as an addiction counselor, and experience in social work, preferred. 

In addition, the position requires experience with individual/family and behavioral rehabilitation counseling, and experience in working with youth (6-18 years old), as well as experience in grant fiscal management and working with community coalitions.

Organizations voice support for position

Local organizations voiced their support for adding this position. 

“I would hope that this position would be able to offer the people of the city and city staff education on issues involved in substance use disorders,” said Susan B. Solis-Castaneda, substance abuse counselor for Marlborough Hills Rehabilitation and Health Care Center. “The most important benefit would be making resources for treatment available.” 

Located at 121 Northboro Road East, Solis-Castaneda noted that the facility has patients with a “plethora of different diagnoses,” including mental health, substance use and physical disorders.

“A Substance Abuse Prevention coordinator for the city of Marlborough could help us by developing resources for treatment, and addressing the stigma associated with substance use disorders,” she said. “Substance use disorders are especially difficult to treat successfully due to the shame and guilt that those who have this diagnosis are faced with. It is a human disease and therefore anyone is susceptible to it.”

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