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University of Hawaiʻi receives $2.2 million to train substance abuse counselors

James Ronin via Pixabay
James Ronin via Pixabay

The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and Leeward Community College have received federal funds to train students to become certified counselors for substance use disorders.

The U.S. Health Resources and Service Administration awarded UH Mānoa and LCC $2.2 million to expand the behavioral health workforce in the state.

Nearly 90 students will be awarded scholarships and stipends over a four-year period in the newly created Hawaiʻi Behavioral Health Training Institute.

Students will be trained in substance use disorder counseling, treatment and after-care — with the opportunity of an apprenticeship.

Gwen Williams heads the certified substance abuse counselor program at LCC. She says there is a great need for counselors in the state, especially rural areas.

"About 1,300 or so across the state are considered CSACs. Those are certified substance abuse counselors. I saw a number of 82,100 people who have all different substance use disorders in Hawaiʻi, have a little higher than average death rate than the national average in various use of drugs, especially meth," she said.

"And we have a high number of youth misusing substances. We ranked fourth highest in the nation," Williams said.

Williams says this grant is open to anyone who is interested in becoming a substance use counselor.

For more information on the Hawaiʻi Behavioral Health Training Institute, students can email HBHTI@hawaii.edu.

Casey Harlow was an HPR reporter and occasionally filled in as local host of Morning Edition and All Things Considered.
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