In the face of a nationwide opiate epidemic, which has touched the lives of countless residents across central New Jersey in recent years, area treatment centers and health care providers are reporting an increased demand for trained addiction counselors and treatment specialists.
To help meet that demand – and ensure local residents and families have ready access to qualified professionals in their own communities – Brookdale’s Human Services program established a new associate of science (A.S) degree option in Addiction Studies back in 2016.
The program, which features comprehensive curriculum and nearly 300 hours of practical training in area hospitals, mental health centers and other facilities, prepares students to transfer, earn a bachelor’s degree and begin their careers as certified drug and alcohol counselors, all within four years.
This fall, Brookdale’s Human Services program was recognized for its high standards by receiving an official accreditation from The Council for Standards in Human Services Education (CSHSE), a nationwide organization committed to assuring the quality, consistency and relevance of human service education. Brookdale’s is now the only human service program in the state to be accredited by CSHSE.
In addition, the college’s addiction studies program has been formally accredited by The Addictions Professionals Certification Board, a statewide organization tasked with ensuring the quality and professionalism of addiction and health care training programs.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for our students,” said assistant psychology and human services professor Nicole Jackson Walker. “Students can leave our program having met the educational requirements to receive two separate professional certifications, while honing the skills and experience necessary to transfer, earn an advanced degree, and begin their careers as certified counselors.”
Graduates of the Brookdale addiction studies program are able to sit for the national Human Services Board Certified Practitioner exam and the state’s Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor Certification exam, potentially earning a professional certification prior to transfer. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree, students are able to begin work as mental health and substance abuse social workers, a career field that is projected to grow by nearly 30 percent in central New Jersey in the coming years.
According to recent data by the U.S. Department of Labor and Economic Modeling Specialists International (ESMI), employment of mental health and substance abuse social workers in the counties of Monmouth, Ocean, Middlesex and Mercer will increase by 28 percent between 2015 and 2025. Other related fields, including substance abuse counselors, mental health counselors, and family and school social workers, are projected to increase by nearly 20 percent.
“There is a significant need in our area for effective, compassionate addiction services and counselors, and that need is going to continue to grow,” said Jackson Walker. “Our goal is to ensure that Brookdale graduates are trained and prepared to address that need and help the members of our communities recover and rebuild their lives.”
In addition to the accreditations, faculty are now working to develop accelerated human services courses, which would allow students to pursue professional certifications and degrees in less time.
To learn more about Brookdale’s Human Services degree programs, click here.