The University of Cincinnati program offers numerous exciting opportunities to learn the field and make a difference
This sponsored content was produced for the University of Cincinnati Substance Abuse Counseling Program by the Treatment Magazine Content Studio.
By Erin Gilday, Treatment Magazine Content Studio
As the opioid overdose crisis continues across the country, more and more patients are turning to substance abuse counselors for evidence-based treatment. Unfortunately, too many of these patients discover they can’t find the help they need.
The problem? The United States is facing a shortage of substance abuse counselors in general, and an acute shortage of counselors trained up in the latest approaches to opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment in particular.
George B. Richardson, PhD, NCC, associate professor of counseling at University of Cincinnati, is working to reverse this trend. For this passionate professor, training students at UC’s Substance Abuse Counseling Program to provide counseling services in the context of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) represents a big piece of the puzzle.
Cutting-Edge, Evidence-Based OUD Care
Professor Richardson says the evidence in favor of MAT is clear. “In clinical studies, many clients are experiencing OUD relapse if they do not have MAT early in the continuum of care, and mortality is higher among those not receiving MAT,” he says. “Pushing abstinence from all psychoactive substances [including MAT medications] in acute care is likely to be harmful.”
It’s impossible to understate the auspicious timing of Professor Richardson’s emphasis on OUD and MAT at UC’s Substance Abuse Counseling Program. We’ve written previously about how labor statistics show that there’s never been a better time to pursue a career in substance abuse counseling. The demand for counselors with expertise working on healthcare teams with MAT prescribers is particularly high.
“Demonstrated competence and experience in MAT certainly makes graduates more competitive on the job market, given that many agencies include a medication component in their treatment approaches.”—George B. Richardson, associate professor of counseling, University of Cincinnati
UC graduates leverage the training they receive in the evidence-based treatment of OUD to create even stronger career opportunities for themselves in an already booming field. “Demonstrated competence and experience in MAT certainly makes graduates more competitive on the job market, given that many agencies include a medication component in their treatment approaches,” says Professor Richardson.
Rigorous Courses, Exciting Hands-On Experience
At UC, students are given multiple opportunities to engage with MAT patients who struggle with opioid dependency. Coursework covers the pharmacology of treatment as well as the neurobiology and neurophysiology of opioid addiction, while internships afford students the opportunity to apply what they’ve learned about OUD and MAT to work in the field.
“Many of our students are placed in internship sites providing MAT during their senior year,” Professor Richardson says.
UC fosters close partnerships with community-based organizations and other MAT prescribing programs, which makes it easier for students to secure internships at many excellent evidence-based addiction treatment providers in the U.S. Still, some of the best internship opportunities for addiction counseling students at UC are available in-house through the Addiction Sciences Clinic at UC. There, researchers, clinicians, educators and interns work together to implement—and sometimes even define—state-of-the-art, evidence-based best practices for the treatment of OUD.
Supporting Long-Term OUD Recovery
For Professor Richardson, it’s the cutting-edge discoveries in OUD, addiction treatment and long-term recovery that keep intellectual life at the University of Cincinnati interesting for undergraduates, graduates and faculty.
“We have a whole course devoted to maintenance strategies for long-term recovery, and our students read the primary research. They are at the cutting edge, learning which new recovery management approaches are receiving empirical support.”—George B. Richardson
“Treatment isn’t just about stabilizing and providing acute care to clients, but also about what happens for clients in the long term,” he says. “We are just beginning to really learn about the prevalence of recovery out in the population and the many ways people have achieved it. We have a whole course devoted to maintenance strategies for long-term recovery, and our students read the primary research. They are at the cutting edge, learning which new recovery management approaches are receiving empirical support.”
With so many options available to pursue in Substance Abuse Counseling at University of Cincinnati, there’s sure to be a program that fits the needs of students interested in exploring this exciting field.
UC offers a six-course Substance Abuse Prevention Certificate, a one-year Substance Abuse Counseling Certificate and a two-to-four year online Bachelor of Science in Substance Abuse Counseling. The Substance Abuse Counseling Program Track is also affiliated with UC Counseling Program’s various master’s-level programs, including a PhD track in Counselor Education.