Friday, March 31, 2023

Here’s how ODU is responding to this need

(Southside Daily file)
(Southside Daily file)

NORFOLK — To combat the opioid epidemic across the state, Old Dominion University’s Darden College of Education and Professional Studies is offering a new professional certificate in addiction prevention and treatment.

Housed in the Department of Counseling and Human Services, the addiction prevention and treatment certificate will train students and practitioners to identify signs of substance abuse, develop prevention and recovery programs, treat individuals and counsel families.

On the heels of the new certificate, the college has been awarded a $900,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Money from the three-year grant will be used to help offset students’ tuition expenses and strengthen partnerships between the human services program and community organizations.

The certificate requires 18 credit hours and includes courses in substance abuse treatment and crisis intervention. It is available to undergraduate and graduate students and practitioners in the field each semester, via distance learning and on campus.

“The purpose of this project is to enhance community-based experiential training of bachelor’s level Human Services students working with individuals and families struggling with opioid and other substance use disorders in high-need and high-demand areas,” said Mark Rehfuss, associate professor and online coordinator of the human services program, who added that the funds can only be offset tuition expenses during their internship course. “The grant will help enhance student training in addictions prevention, treatment and recovery services.”

For bachelor-level addiction practitioners interested in credentialing, the certificate may fulfill the didactic hours required in many states to complete the post-graduation phase toward addiction credentialing such as the Certified Substance Abuse Counselor (CSAC) in Virginia.

For practitioners without an undergraduate degree, this certificate may fulfill the academic requirements for supportive credentials such as the Certified Substance Abuse Counselor-Assistant (CSAC-A) in Virginia. While the program is endorsed through the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC), all students are encouraged to contact their local credentialing board to determine how the certificate can meet their state requirements.

The certificate builds upon a successful human services program at ODU. The Darden College of Education and Professional Studies is No. 1 in the nation for producing African American Bachelor’s Graduates in Human Services, according to the Diverse Issues in Higher Education, Top 100 Producers of Bachelor’s Degrees, 2018. This program also was lauded by Best Colleges in 2019 for being the 10th Best Online Bachelor’s in Human Services in the nation.

An educational reception about the state of Virginia’s opioid crisis was hosted by the Darden College of Education and Professional Studies Friday.

Guest speakers included Margaret Steele and Alexandria Robinson from the Department of Behavioral Health and Development Services. The Darden College introduced its human services program and addiction and prevention certificate to community service agencies, residential facilities and other stakeholders.

For questions about the new certificate, contact Jennifer Simmons, human services program director, at or Chaniece Winfield, addiction coordinator, at

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