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Addressing the Opioid Crisis

Posted: April 20, 2018 — by Julie Lindh

Ginger Cato and Jason Woodard at the Recovery Center in Johnstown. Both Ginger and Jason are FM alums who now work for HFM Prevention Council.

Ginger Cato and Jason Woodard at the Recovery Center in Johnstown. Both Ginger and Jason are FM alums who now work for HFM Prevention Council.

Beginning in the fall 2018 semester, students may enroll in the new Chemical Abuse Counseling A.A.S. at Fulton-Montgomery Community College. This new program will allow students to both obtain their Associates degree and complete the 350 hours of course work necessary to become a Credentialed Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselor (CASAC).

It is not a secret that the areas of Fulton and Montgomery County have been hit hard by the Opioid Epidemic and many people and families are suffering. Programs throughout the region have received increased funding and a number of grants have been made available to address this crisis.  However, there is a fundamental need for more people to work in this field.  The creation of this new program at FM will fill this gap in the workforce by providing trained and credentialed employees to agencies working on prevention and treatment of Opioid dependence.

Many of you know that drug dependence is detrimental to individuals and families throughout our area. Drug use and abuse can quickly disrupt an individual, their relationships, their mental health, and can even end their life.  According to the CDC National Center for Health Statistics, the number of drug overdose deaths in the United States from synthetic opioids more than doubled from 2016 to 2017 and in New York State the number of deaths increased by 135% during this same time.  This number is staggering and hits too close to home for many people.

This new degree program at FM will have an impact; you can be a part of ending this crisis in our community. Many students come to FM with the intention of eventually working in Human Services and will now have the opportunity to earn the CASAC, which makes them marketable for many openings in prevention and treatment programs.  With over 900 addiction treatment and support programs across New York State according to the Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), the need is great.

Jason Woodard graduated in May 2017 with a degree in Human Services and is now employed at the Rob Constantine Recovery Community and Outreach Center as a Peer Engagement and Recovery Support Specialist. He sees first-hand the need for more people to work in the field of Chemical Abuse Counseling and says, “I think it’s important to have the Chemical Abuse Counseling A.A.S. available to our community not only to train those who want to help people affected by the current Opioid Epidemic locally, but to treat people with dependence on other substances as well. The recovery process from opioids and other substances such as alcohol or cocaine does not end after a brief stay in an inpatient treatment facility or when a person no longer physically needs the substance. Recovery is a lifelong process in which many people will need assistance to manage their dependence on a substance.”

Julie Lindh, LCSW, is a Human Services Instructor at FM.

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