Here’s how ODU is responding to this need

(Southside Daily file)
(Southside Daily file)

NORFOLK — To combat the opioid epidemic across the state, Old Dominion University’s Darden College of Education and Professional Studies is offering a new professional certificate in addiction prevention and treatment.

Housed in the Department of Counseling and Human Services, the addiction prevention and treatment certificate will train students and practitioners to identify signs of substance abuse, develop prevention and recovery programs, treat individuals and counsel families.

On the heels of the new certificate, the college has been awarded a $900,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Money from the three-year grant will be used to help offset students’ tuition expenses and strengthen partnerships between the human services program and community organizations.

The certificate requires 18 credit hours and includes courses in substance abuse treatment and crisis intervention. It is available to undergraduate and graduate students and practitioners in the field each semester, via distance learning and on campus.

“The purpose of this project is to enhance community-based experiential training of bachelor’s level Human Services students working with individuals and families struggling with opioid and other substance use disorders in high-need and high-demand areas,” said Mark Rehfuss, associate professor and online coordinator of the human services program, who added that the funds can only be offset tuition expenses during their internship course. “The grant will help enhance student training in addictions prevention, treatment and recovery services.”

For bachelor-level addiction practitioners interested in credentialing, the certificate may fulfill the didactic hours required in many states to complete the post-graduation phase toward addiction credentialing such as the Certified Substance Abuse Counselor (CSAC) in Virginia.

For practitioners without an undergraduate degree, this certificate may fulfill the academic requirements for supportive credentials such as the Certified Substance Abuse Counselor-Assistant (CSAC-A) in Virginia. While the program is endorsed through the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC), all students are encouraged to contact their local credentialing board to determine how the certificate can meet their state requirements.

The certificate builds upon a successful human services program at ODU. The Darden College of Education and Professional Studies is No. 1 in the nation for producing African American Bachelor’s Graduates in Human Services, according to the Diverse Issues in Higher Education, Top 100 Producers of Bachelor’s Degrees, 2018. This program also was lauded by Best Colleges in 2019 for being the 10th Best Online Bachelor’s in Human Services in the nation.

An educational reception about the state of Virginia’s opioid crisis was hosted by the Darden College of Education and Professional Studies Friday.

Guest speakers included Margaret Steele and Alexandria Robinson from the Department of Behavioral Health and Development Services. The Darden College introduced its human services program and addiction and prevention certificate to community service agencies, residential facilities and other stakeholders.

For questions about the new certificate, contact Jennifer Simmons, human services program director, at or Chaniece Winfield, addiction coordinator, at

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John Mangalonzo ( is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.