Data from 2016 is still being calculated, but according to Gov. Tom Wolf, the number of drug overdose deaths is continuing to rise in the commonwealth.
In an effort to combat the opioid epidemic, he is encouraging anyone connected with the fight to take a newly created certificate program.
Clarion University of Pennsylvania launched its Opioid Treatment Specialist Certificate program Wednesday. Clarion University President Karen Whitney said it's important to note the four-class online program is not a degree program.
“What we understood was [the] time is now … to equip people who are overwhelmed in their daily work across our communities," she said. "Every part of our society is being overwhelmed by this and we wanted to provider a very direct and immediate way to be of help.”
School officials said there are no prerequisites, which means anyone can enroll. However, in a press release the university suggested the classes would be best for, “professionals who want to strengthen their credentials or to current students who want to graduate with stronger job prospects.”
“We tapped the expertise of our faculty in addiction, rehabilitation, social work, psychology, nursing, to design this incredible certificate, which addresses the specific challenges brought on by the opioid crisis,” Whitney said.
The classes will focus on issues such as diagnoses, prevention, detox and recovery. Whitney said the certificate will be especially useful for councilors and therapists, emergency responders and health care providers.
Wolf called the program one more weapon in the state’s fight in the still growing opioid epidemic, which he says is touching every part of the commonwealth.
“I applaud Clarion University … for this effort to help stop the scourge of heroin and opioid overdose by coming at it from the most logical angle, the angle of education,” Wolf said.