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For many British Columbians, COVID-19 has turned into something much more than a virus. Since the onset of the pandemic, data indicates a rise in drug overdose events, with the B.C. Coroners Service recording over 100 deaths per month since March 2020, including a record-setting 181 deaths in June.
There has also been a marked increase in liquor sales. At the national level, the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction reports that more than a quarter of Canadians increased their alcohol consumption in the early months of the pandemic.
In these extremely challenging times, the need for addictions counselling professionals and related support systems is clear. “We’re really seeing what’s needed in the community right now,” says VCC Addiction Counselling instructor Andrew Stone.
VCC has been offering programs in problematic substance use and addictions counselling since 1980, and will be launching a renewed Addictions Counselling Advanced Certificate, delivered entirely online, in 2021.
The program, which can be taken part-time or full-time and completed in one to three years, employs an empathetic and holistic approach to substance use. The curriculum highlights the impacts of historic and systemic oppression, and incorporates Indigenous health models and cultural safety practices.
Upon completion, students from a variety of backgrounds will have the tools to apply evidence-based models, approaches, and interventions in roles such as community support worker.
“The Addiction Counselling Skills Advanced Certificate teaches the current trends in addiction treatment and offers trauma-informed and hands-on learning taught by faculty working in the field,” explains VCC instructor Peta Schur. “It offers an excellent blend of practical knowledge, skill building, and self-development.”