EU receives $197K for addiction counselor training

Category:  News
Tuesday, November 17th, 2020 at 4:04 PM

Edinboro University’s School of Graduate Studies was recently awarded over $197,000 for counselor education training. Specifically, these funds would be used when students are “focusing on treating addiction.” The university announced the award on Oct. 26 through a press release.  

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, along with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), awarded the SAMHSA grant to Edinboro’s counseling master’s programs. These programs are housed in the Department of Counseling, School Psychology, and Special Education. 

According to the press release and the Pennsylvania Department of Health, “the prescription opioid and heroin overdose epidemic is the worst public health crisis in the Commonwealth, affecting Pennsylvanians from big cities to rural communities.” 

In Jan. 2018, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf signed the Opioid Disaster Declaration in order to better combat this issue. Just recently, on Nov. 12, Wolf signed the 12th renewal of the declaration.

 “We must continue to fight both the COVID-19 pandemic and the opioid epidemic in our commonwealth, and I am grateful to the dedicated team of the Opioid Command Center for its commitment to fighting the opioid epidemic even among challenging circumstances,” said Wolf.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has also stated that the need for professionals who can provide high quality SUD (substance use disorder) services has increased. Meanwhile, the number of highly trained addiction counselors has decreased. 

Dr. Susan Packard, professor in EU’s counseling department, spoke of the opioid crisis in an email interview. “Between Jan. 1, 2018 and Oct. 5, 2019, emergency medical services administered 27,219 doses of naloxone in Pennsylvania, and 17,845 emergency room visits were the result of opioid overdoses (Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 2019).” According to SAMHSA’s website, naloxone is “designed to rapidly reverse opioid overdose.” 

With this data, along with the growing alcohol and substance abuse epidemic, it can be understood why the necessity of professionals with SUD training has increased. A variety of factors such as clinician turnover, competing career options, and more has contributed to the decrease in available addiction counselors. 

According to the press release, Edinboro’s counseling program includes four master’s degrees: college counseling, clinical mental health counseling, clinical rehabilitation counseling, and clinical mental health counseling and school counseling.  

Each program has been accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Furthermore, Edinboro’s counseling program also includes pathways for art therapy. 

Packard explained that there is a comprehensive plan of action in place to utilize the grant funds. “The funds available from the SAMHSA grant will be used to provide high quality counselor education training and increase the number of professionals prepared to deliver substance use disorder (SUD) services to reduce both the human and financial costs associated with SUD.”

The plan of action includes, according to Packard:

A. Develop high quality, comprehensive curriculum on the identification and treatment of substance use disorder (SUD) that aligns with the requirements for the Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC) credential.  

B. Develop a systematic evaluation plan for grant-related data collection, performance measurement, and performance assessment as well as a feedback loop for continuous quality improvement of the certification program for SUD identification and treatment.  

C. Develop continuing education workshops for current mental health professionals who did not have addiction course work in their graduate program.

D. Implement all graduate course work, with an emphasis on SUD identification and treatment, and continuing education (i.e., workshops for practicing professionals interested in CADC and Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor [CAADC] certification).

E. Increase clinical fieldwork options through partnerships with community agencies, including inpatient and outpatient treatment facilities.  

F. Develop a systematic plan for providing underserved, rural communities with additional SUD services.

According to Packard, there will be “additional standards” placed in existing university courses, while two new courses will be added. The new courses will be “Advanced Substance Use Disorder Counseling” and “Treatment Planning, Collaboration, and Referral.” 

“The opportunity for graduate-level course work in addiction treatment, workshops, and continuing education will be welcomed by many ... the expectation is that this interest will result in increased enrollment in counseling courses,” explained Packard.

Allisynn Bengel is a staff writer for The Spectator. She can be reached at

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