Newswise — MORGANTOWN, W.Va. In the face of the national opioid epidemic, the West Virginia University College of Education and Human Services will launch its minor in addiction studies beginning in the fall of 2018. The minor, open to undergraduate students in all academic disciplines, will provide students with a broad-based view of addiction theories, assessment and treatment to prepare them for employment in substance use disorder treatment and related settings.

“There is a clear need in our State and nation for professionals who can address the unique needs of individuals and families who are coping with substance use disorders,” said CEHS Dean Gypsy Denzine. “We created the minor in addiction studies to provide students in a variety of fields with the necessary skills to make a difference in this area of great need.”

The addiction studies minor will consist of five courses for a total of 15 credit hours and includes courses titled Introduction to Addiction Studies, Addiction Screening & Assessment, Addiction Counseling Techniques, Families & Addiction, and the Addiction Studies Capstone. The minor can be added to a student’s academic major or selected as one of the three minors for the University’s major in Multidisciplinary Studies.

The coordinator of the minor in addiction studies is Clinical Assistant Professor Frankie Tack, a seasoned addiction counselor with 20 years of experience in the field. Tack has designed the minor to train students for careers that help people who are working on recovering from addiction.

“I want our students to be prepared, if they so choose, for entry-level work in an addiction treatment setting,” Tack said. “That means ensuring they have the basic skills, knowledge and attitudes needed to work in the field and get started. We also want to equip those who will work in allied and related professions, such as social work, public health, and criminal justice.”

Dustin Daniels, a student in WVU’s Regents Bachelor of Arts program who enrolled in the minor’s pilot courses in the spring of 2018, is one of the students who will immediately benefit. Daniels, who currently works for Ascension Recovery Services in Morgantown, W.Va., is looking to the minor to supplement his current work in the addictions field, as well as to prepare him to enter WVU’s master’s program in clinical rehabilitation and mental health counseling. 

“The classes are amazing,” Daniels said. “They line up so well with my professional goals, and it’s so beneficial for me to take that knowledge back to the clients I’m now working with as a recovery coach.” 

The minor in addiction studies will consist of multiple learning experiences to educate students about various modalities for addiction treatment. For example, students in the Introduction to Addiction Studies course complete an abstinence project and give up something they love for the length of the semester. These students work in support groups to steer clear of the items they’ve given up, which can range from soda to cigarettes. In doing so, the students better understand the experiences of individuals in recovery, as well as gain an understanding of how support groups function.

Ultimately, Tack hopes that students who enroll in the minor in addiction studies will share her passion for the addictions field and for impacting the lives of others.

“When you work in this field, you get to see miracles on a regular basis,” Tack said. “People rise out of the ashes of the devastation of addiction and heal their lives, heal with their families,  become productive citizens and go on to help others.”