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University of Hawaiʻi gets $2.2 million grant to train substance abuse counselors

Addiction to opioids and heroin is a major public health problem, but so is alcohol abuse.

The University of Hawaiʻi said Thursday it received a $2.2 million grant to train 88 students to become substance abuse counselors.

The grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration will provide students with scholarships to attend a program at Leeward Community College. The students will also receive stipends while completing 400 hours of fieldwork.

Upon finishing, students will receive a Certificate of Competence in Substance Use Disorders Counseling. Students who have obtained their certificate will have an opportunity to work one year full-time or two years part-time as apprentices to boost their skills with on-the-job training.

The Hawaiʻi Behavioral Health Training Institute program will offer synchronous online classes so neighbor island students can enroll.

The program aims to support training opportunities in rural areas and recruit students with a passion to serve their home communities, the university said in a news release.

“There is a dearth of substance use disorder counselors who come from vulnerable, marginalized communities, and these communities unfortunately often suffer the most substance use-related problems," said Gwen Williams, professor and program coordinator. "We hope to not only recruit learners from rural areas but also develop fieldwork and apprenticeship sites in these areas.”

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