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Professionals Train to Battle Addiction

8/9/2010 —

DuBois – With drug and alcohol addiction cases in Central Pennsylvania a constant presence, Penn State DuBois is helping to prepare professionals to join the battle against addiction.


The Chemical Dependency Prevention and Counseling Certificate offered by Penn State DuBois Continuing Education (CE) gives professionals in a variety of fields an edge by teaching them how to identify substance abuse, as well as how to treat it.


"No matter what field you're in, mental health, nursing, counseling, probation, you're going to run into substance abuse," said instructor Bill Allenbaugh.  "If you can't recognize the signs, that patient won't be treated properly, and that's a disservice to them and to the system. This course teaches students the signs and symptoms of that dependency." 


Allenbaugh said dependency is wide-spread, and can be difficult to identify.  Especially since it can happen to anyone, as he explained, "We're dealing with a lot of middle class professional people here, and a lot of juveniles.  Addiction knows no economic or age boundaries."


Further complicating the diagnoses of substance abuse are the ever changing trends in drug use.  Allenbaugh noted that abuse never really goes away, but the substance of choice may come and go. 


"It's always here, but the drug changes, they go in and out of fashion," he said.  "The popular drugs right now are pharmaceuticals; a while back it was heroin."


Graduates of the program have used what they have learned in different ways.  Doug Turner, of Curwensville, graduated from Penn State DuBois in 2009 with a degree in Letters, Arts, and Sciences, but focused his course work on psychology and counseling.   He took the Chemical Dependency Certificate program as a supplement to his regular curriculum. He now works for Johnstown based Children's Behavioral Health as Therapeutic Staff Support for in-need children in area school districts.


"It was tremendous," Turner said.  "The program was beneficial to me because it served as a guideline for the classes I needed to take in order for my degree to prepare me for what I wanted to do." 


Gilbert Baez took the certificate program independently to refresh his skills and improve his résumé.  He had already worked for more than 30 years as an addiction counselor in Maryland, but found value in the program's cutting edge information as he looks to further a career in counseling now that he has relocated to Pennsylvania.  


"It will help me to put myself out there on the market and get employed in the field in this area," Baez said.  He noted that one day, he may even open up his own residential addiction treatment facility. 


For more information contact Assistant Director of Continuing Education Diana Ricotta at 375-4718. 

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