FARMINGTON — In light of the troubling growth of substance abuse and addiction in Maine, the University of Maine at Farmington has created an Addiction Rehabilitation Certificate that will help prepare students to work in this high-demand profession soon after graduation. 

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the job outlook for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors is expected to grow by 31 percent through 2022.

The certificate first became available to any UMF student in any major this fall. It allows students to prepare for a professional career in the addiction field while they are simultaneously pursuing their undergraduate college degree.

The certificate is composed of 22 credits in rehabilitation courses that focus on understanding addiction, prevention and recovery from substance abuse. Internships are actively sought for students by UMF faculty. These placements with licensed professionals qualify students to take the National Alcohol and Drug Counselor exam and to be eligible for state licensure at an early stage of their education.

Haley Berry, a UMF senior from Westbrook, is majoring in rehabilitation services and enrolled in the certificate’s first cohort. She is volunteering at the Day One residential adolescent substance abuse treatment facility at Good Will Hinckley where she will intern next semester.

“My experience at Day One has helped me to understand that substance abuse can happen to anyone,” Berry said. “While it’s difficult seeing good kids in a bad situation, it’s great knowing they are in recovery. This experience and my continuing professional preparation are invaluable to me, because they are making it possible for me to make a difference and change lives.”

Overseeing Berry’s work at the Day One facility is Joanne Grant, director of the residency treatment program and UMF lecturer. Grant is a 1996 graduate of the UMF rehabilitation services program and has taught the introduction to addiction course there since 2013.

“Maine is really struggling with the opioid crisis and needs well-trained professionals who have a good educational foundation,” Grant said.  “Having a bachelor’s degree plus addiction training is of tremendous value when looking to be a professional in this field. It gives a student a huge advantage. Several UMF students went directly from their internships at Day One to positions as full-time counselors.”

According to Jewel Jones, chairperson of the UMF Division of Rehabilitation Services and Special Education, nearly 15 students are already enrolled in the new certificate.  “This certificate is getting support and encouragement from substance abuse and public health organizations across the state,” Jones said. “Addiction is a problem throughout the country. Providing our students with the highest level of professional preparation is the first step toward a solution.”

For more information on the UMF Addiction Rehabilitation Certificate visit: http://www.umf.maine.edu/majors-academics/addiction-rehabilitation/ 

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