Rivier responds to opioid epidemic

NASHUA – Rivier University is responding to the ongoing opioid epidemic by adding a new Substance Use Disorders track option to the bachelor’s degree in psychology program, starting this term.

“Our program recognizes that each person with a substance use disorder has a unique story and deserves an individualized approach to treatment and recovery,” assistant professor of psychology and department coordinator Elizabeth Harwood said. “Students will learn evidence-based, current practices in the diagnosis, assessment and treatment planning of substance use disorders, while considering the influence of family, community, and culture.”

Rivier’s Center for Behavioral Health Professions and Workforce Development launched last year to address workforce needs in the behavioral health and substance use disorder fields. The new endeavor means to complement the existing program.

According to a 2018 National Institute on Drug Abuse report, New Hampshire has the second highest rate of opioid-related overdose deaths in the country. As state officials work to turn the tide, Rivier leaders hope to do their part.

The courses will focus on the physical and behavioral effects of drug use, psychological disorders, counseling theory and practice, and the ethical treatment and rehabilitation of those battling addiction. The process toward earning this degree allows students to become a licensed alcohol and drug counselor.

“Rivier is uniquely positioned to support the increased demand for behavioral health professionals in our region and beyond,” Rivier President Sister Paula Marie Buley, IHM, said. “The substance use disorder track within our psychology degree will prepare professionals for careers in counseling, recovery services, advocacy, and public health. By building the workforce, we can ultimately contribute to improving the quality of life of citizens throughout our state and the region.”

Whether a senior psychology major or undeclared freshmen, Rivier students will are scheduled to begin returning to campus Sunday during from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Adam Urquhart can be reached at 594-1206 or aurquhart@nashuatelegraph.com.