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Saratoga Springs-based college offers first-of-its-kind addictions degree

August 14, 2019 07:04 PM

SARATOGA SPRINGS - The problem stretches to every corner of the Capital Region and across the country -- the use and abuse of opioids has been called an epidemic.

Thalia MacMillan sees it firsthand in her role as an EMT in Litchfield County. CT.

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"More and more, we're seeing more calls for overdose," said MacMillan.

When she isn't responding to emergency calls, MacMillan is an associate professor at SUNY Empire State College and one of the driving forces behind the school's brand new Bachelor's Degree program: Addiction Studies.

"The people who need it, aren't actually getting help so we need more people who are trained to work with them," she said.

And train they will. They'll offer courses, both on-line and in person, in subjects such as crisis intervention and advanced substance use counseling.

The college says much of what's driving the new degree program is student interest. Students who've been impacted by a friend or loved one's addiction want to learn how to combat it.

SUNY Empire State will start offering the degree track in the spring.

"I suspect there'll be a number of students working on their degrees now that'll be interested in moving over into this addictions program," said Desalyn De-Souza, the school's interim associate dean of human services.

The U.S. Department of Labor predicts there'll be 20-percent more jobs in addictions fields over the next decade.

SUNY Empire State College hopes to have its students ready to fill them, because as MacMillan reminds us, the problem is pervasive and long gone are the days when it was just a guy on a street corner who was the addict.

"There is not one portrait of addiction. Everybody has their own portrait."

Because many SUNY Empire State College students come to the school with an Associate's Degree or the equivalent, the first Addiction Studies majors could graduate in as little as two years.

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Mark Mulholland

Copyright 2019 WNYT-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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