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Licensed health professionals can become addiction counselors

The Daily Herald - 12/28/2017

LYNNWOOD — The opioid epidemic has created high demand for counselors who can assess patients' need for treatment and assist those who relapse.

To help meet the need, Edmonds Community College is offering a 20-credit program for licensed health professionals to be trained as addiction counselors for both drug and alcohol dependence issues.

The fast track program, being offered for the first time at EdCC, begins Tuesday.

"We still have some spots available," said Karen Townsend, chairwoman of the social and human services department. "We're trying to get the word out there so people know this is an option."

The courses will be offered on campus and online. "It's unfortunate it's a high-demand field," Townsend said. "We have a huge opioid addiction issue that is becoming more and more important for us to help people with."

From June 1 to Aug. 31, 100 people were treated for overdoses at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, according to the Snohomish Health District. More than a third were 25 to 30 years old.

The college's program is open to licensed advanced nurse practitioners, psychologists, counselors, social workers, osteopathic physicians, osteopathic physician assistants, physicians and physician assistants.

The new program was started after the state Department of Health made changes that went into effect in July 2016 allowing licensed health care workers to get additional training to allow them to work on addiction issues.

So far, 31 people have completed the training, said Brad Burnham, a program manager for the state Department of Health.

One example of those seeking the credential is licensed mental health counselors who have training in working with patients but needed additional coursework on addiction, Townsend said.

Course topics include an overview of addiction, whether for issues such as drug and alcohol dependence or behavioral issues such as compulsive gambling, and how these issues affect the brain.

Another course focuses on brain science, such as how neurotransmitters are affected by heroin and alcohol and how long it takes to physically recover from addiction.

The college has been offering courses in addiction studies since 1973.

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486;


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