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Education
Aug 16, 2019

Social Workers Play Vital Role in Substance Use Treatment Process

Sponsored Content provided by Charles Hardy - Founding Dean and Professor, UNCW College of Health and Human Services

There is a tremendous need for additional social workers and other allied health providers in the treatment of substance use disorders. New Hanover and Onslow Counties are battling the opiate epidemic simultaneously in rural and urban areas. Currently New Hanover is first and Onslow County is 12th in the nation for opioid abuse. Opiate abuse and addiction has legal, medical, and social implications that require a multi-prong approach including education, intervention, treatment, and on-going community awareness and response. This epidemic is resulting in deaths, social implications and increased monetary costs. Local support has been substantial, particularly with the creation Opioid Overdose Prevention Program with several community partners, however, gaps in providing treatment, prevention and education still exist. Creative solutions are needed to address these challenges.
 
The School of Social Work within the College of Health and Human Services at UNC Wilmington is in the forefront of educating future professionals to work in the field of substance use disorders. The school offers a four-course substance use and addictions sequence and field practicum for students interested in pursuing this field. These courses are also available to practicing social workers. Students participating in the Substance Use Disorders and Addictions Certificate program are provided the added benefit of clinical supervision by a licensed clinical addictions specialist and certified clinical supervisor as credentialed by the North Carolina Substance Abuse Professional Practice Board. Students and community members can take the necessary educational requirements within the UNCW School of Social Work to provide leverage toward the widely sought-after credential, licensed clinical addictions specialist.  

In addition to the certificate program, the School of Social Work has been working with community partners to ensure that all social work students are educated about working with people struggling with addiction. In an effort to increase training on how to best work with families and newborn babies impacted by opioid misuse, the School of Social Work offers simulations that demonstrate best practice interventions for nurses and social workers when interacting with a family where opioid misuse is suspected. More than 140 students and community partners participated in the simulation and debriefing this past year. Community partners plan to utilize the video footage to prepare their workforces. Future simulations will be offered as continuing education opportunities, including collaboration with the court system. Creating these types of educational opportunities for allied health professionals enhances the community’s ability to combat this national crisis. Learn more about the School of Social Work’s Substance Use Disorders and Addictions Certificate here.

The College of Health and Human Services consists of three professional schools - School of Health and Applied Human Sciences, School of Nursing and School of Social Work - and employs more than 250 full and part-time staff and faculty and enrolls more than 4,000 students in 16 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Hardy serves as chief academic, fiscal and administrative officer of the college, which is responsible for educating students across the health and human services programs. To learn more about the UNCW College of Health and Human Services, visit www.uncw.edu/chhs. Questions and comments can be directed to [email protected].

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