C EP department receives federal funding to train students in opioid addiction counseling

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Eve Adams, Ph.D said the grant will allow doctors to look at the national crisis in a different and hopefully more effective manner.

Courtesy: NMSU

Eve Adams, Ph.D said the grant will allow doctors to look at the national crisis in a different and hopefully more effective manner.

The Counseling and Educational Psychology Department at New Mexico State University is training its doctoral students to counsel clients struggling with opioid addiction, a United States health epidemic that began in the 1990s.

CEP Department Head Eve Adams received a grant for the department’s project titled Graduate Psychology Education Program: Integrated Behavioral Health and OUD/SUD Training on the U.S. – Mexico Border.

Adams said the grant will allow doctors to look at the national crisis in a different and hopefully more effective manner.

“What’s unique about this grant is because of the opioid crisis, the way it was written, was that there had to be more of a focus on treating substance use disorders and opioid use disorders,” Adams said.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, an estimate of at least 130 people die daily from opioid overdoses and an estimated 11.4 million people have misused their prescribed opioids.

The overall goal of the CEP department’s project as stated in the grant’s abstract is “to provide culturally and linguistically competent, integrated, trauma-informed, interdisciplinary team-based care in the delivery of behavioral health and OUD [opioid use disorders]/SUD [substance use disorders] prevention and treatment services in a medically underserved community,”

Adams said the grant will allow for an “enhanced curriculum,” and noted that an addictions counseling course and a primary care psychology class will be new additions.

This training also pushes the counseling psychology students to work in behavioral health settings and go beyond their typical counseling centers.

Work sites have now extended to Memorial Medical Center Family Medicine Center and in Ben Archer Health Center which are both health institutions in Las Cruces. In the past, the students solely trained at the NMSU Counseling Center and at clinics at The University of Texas at El Paso.

Students will be supervised by medical doctors and CEP faculty at the health care sites.

Adams explained that the benefits of the on-site training are two-fold and that these NMSU students are receiving a unique experience.

“I’d say there’s two groups of people that are being benefited. One is the clientele of these two agencies and then the other are our students because our students are leaving with really cutting-edge information and experiences that a lot of programs don’t offer,” Adams said.

Adams said on-site trainings are rare, making this program unique.

The grant will allow the CEP department to fund this opioid addiction counseling training for three years. It will also provide trainee stipends to make the program more affordable for the doctoral students.

“This year’s award is $304,560 with a comparable amount being given for each of the next two years for a total award of $906,000 for three years,” Adams said.

Six doctoral students are admitted into a new counseling psychology cohort each year at NMSU, meaning the grant will be able to fund prevention and training skills for eighteen students over the grant’s lifetime.

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