New Addiction Studies Certificate Program Responds to Opioid Crisis

February 25, 2016

Greenfield Community College’s new Addiction Studies Certificate Program is part of a community-wide response to the regional opioid crisis. Beginning in Fall 2016, students will be able to enroll in the 29-credit Certificate which includes courses and practicum experiences focused on the concepts and foundation skills necessary for addiction treatment professionals. Included in the program is a new Sociology course on Drugs & Society that is being taught this spring by Social Science Department Chair, Brian Kapitulik.

The Program’s educational and practicum hours prepare students with the educational component needed to enter the addiction treatment field as Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselors (LADC II). After completing the Certificate, students are eligible to sit for the state’s licensing exam and to complete the additional clinical hours beyond the practicum required to practice at the LADC II level. All courses and credits earned toward the Addiction Studies Certificate can be applied to GCC’s Associate degree in Human Services. The Certificate program is designed as a full-time nine-month program although students may complete the course and practicum work on a part-time basis. While there are no specific prerequisites for the program, prospective Addictions Studies Certificate students must pass a CORI background check and are encouraged to have completed a college English writing course. The program is appropriate for the beginning student as well as professionals working in other fields who seek training in addictions.

The new certificate is an example of several ways GCC is an active partner in the community’s response to the opioid crisis. GCC provides educational pathways to meaningful lives and work that help people avoid and recover from becoming addicted to drugs. The College helps members of the community:

1) who are in recovery find that education is part of their recovery,

2) who have served jail time for drug-related and other offenses re-enter into healthy roles in the community, and

3) who want to work as addiction treatment professionals develop the knowledge and skills needed for that work.

The new Certificate Program was initiated and developed by GCC Human Services faculty and Addiction Studies Certificate Program Coordinator Amy Ford, and GCC Psychology faculty and affiliated faculty with the Addiction Studies Certificate Program, Josh Becker. Ford holds a Master’s in Public Administration with a focus on drug policy and has worked in the addiction field in the Pioneer Valley for over 25 years providing prevention, intervention, and treatment services in various practice settings. Becker holds Master’s degrees in Clinical Psychology and Counseling and Child Development and is finishing his doctorate in Clinical Psychology with a sub-specialty in addiction treatment. In addition to teaching, Becker has worked for over 20 years in clinical and school settings, working with youth, adults, and families who have struggled with substance use disorders.

Kathleen M. Vranos, GCC’s Dean of Business & Information Technology, Professional Studies, and Social Sciences, said “This Certificate is GCC’s recognition of the seriousness of the opioid crisis regionally. We are very fortunate to have the expertise of GCC’s Human Services and Social Sciences departments in addictions rehabilitation which has been crucial to the development of this program. The Opioid Task Force has galvanized a response from all parts of our community. GCC is playing our part in the community-wide response to this significant and tragic challenge.”

Ford said, “We are proud to offer a local program that meets the educational requirements for licensure. This program represents the best of GCC: qualified, dedicated faculty teaching in a student-centered environment, working in tandem with the needs of the community.”

Becker said, “This certificate program demonstrates our college’s response to our community and region in recognizing the need for innovative training opportunities in the midst of a specific epidemic.”

The Opioid Task Force began in 2013 when community leaders came together to respond to the growing problem of heroin and other opioids in Franklin County and the North Quabbin Region. GCC has been part of the Task Force since its beginning. The Task Force now includes 300 members from all parts of the community. The Task Force’s goals are to prevent heroin and prescription drug misuse and addiction, prevent overdose from prescription drugs and heroin, and help more people get treatment and recover from heroin and prescription drug addiction.

Commenting on GCC’s new Addiction Studies Certificate, Opioid Task Force Director Marisa Hebble said, “The Opioid Task Force is grateful for all of the ways GCC has responded to this community emergency. We are thrilled by the new Addiction Studies Certificate. It will significantly increase our community’s capacity to both understand the addiction crisis and treat it. The Certificate provides sustainable lifelong lessons for members of our community and a very real and important step toward addressing this crisis. We are also thankful for the tangible assistance GCC has provided to the Task Force in providing space and event support for many Task Force educational and training events. GCC has made it possible for the Task Force to get the word out about the crisis.”

Join us for an Addiction Studies Information Session on Tuesday, March 15, 4:00-5:30 p.m., to be held in the East Building 116 on the Main Campus. For the most up-to-date program information, please check http://www.gcc.mass.edu/addiction or call Amy Ford at 413-775-1127 or forda@gcc.mass.edu.

By Mary McClintock, ‘82

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