Grant to fund hands-on substance abuse education


By Dixita Limbachia

SAMHA granted $919,000 to Social Work at the University to fund the latest hands-on courses that prevent substance abuse.

The new course will be offered for the first time in the spring exclusively to students in Social Work and will offer a new experience for substance abuse treatment for undergraduate and graduate students.

The classes are offered as three separate sections — screening, brief intervention and referral of the treatment.

The three-step treatment model is a unique approach to treatment services and the early prevention of substance abuse.

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“This course allows us to teach in the classroom with students on how to do an evidence based treatment, which a lot of students don’t get with the hands-on training within the Social Work program” said Douglas Smith, the principal investigator and a social work professor.

SAMHA was able to fund the courses through block grants, Smith said. SAMHA is a branch of the government that’s mission is to disseminate effective treatments for substance abuse and mental illness.

Liliane Windsor, course co-director and professor in Social Work, said she sees a lot of potential for the future implementation of the coursework.

“It’s a really exciting grant in the sense that it supports the translation of research to the real world by training students to see them, implementing what they learn about substance abuse treatments” Windsor said. “It’s a very timely plan, especially in health care in the United States, there’s likely going to be large demands for substance abuse services.”

Students who take the course will also be offered internships that may last four to seven months, depending on whether they are undergraduate or graduate students.

Lincy Pompilus, senior in Social Work, thought the idea of this course stemmed from other sequences in the college.

“There is an entrepreneurship class that is offered in the College of Social Work but this course seems like an opening to another avenue of specialized work” she said.

The goal of the SAMHA dissemination grant is to get an evidence-based treatment into the hands of the mental health professionals as quickly and effectively as possible.

SAMHA will also fund a scholarship for students in Social Work; students in the SBIRT Scholars Program will be trained on how to provide motivational interviewing to help people reduce their substance abuse.

“A lot of students don’t have this opportunity to do hands-on activities so this is a great way to practice on how to do treatment models before the actual internship” Smith said.

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