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BSU social work cuts affect abuse counseling

I am writing about Bemidji State Univer-sity's plans to cut alcohol and drug coun-selor training. Licensed alcohol and drug counselors are a valuable resource in the fight against substance abuse. With daily tragedies from alcohol and drug problems, more licensed counselors are needed. How-ever, funding for BSU's Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor Certification is currently in jeopardy.

Evergreen House has benefited from the LADC program, and I challenge BSU to find a way to continue to its investment in educa-ting and training alcohol and drug counsel-ors. With proposed reductions to BSU's social work program, students would have to relocate to receive LADC certification.

As a member of the BSU Social Work Program's Practitioner Advisory Council, I am aware that in 2009, the LADC will generate nearly $104,000 in revenue, while it only costs BSU approximately $15,000 in adjunct faculty for the eight credits. Most organizations would consider this an excellent return on investment.

The proposed cuts call for a 25 percent decrease to BSU's social work program adjunct credits, a cut from 16 to 12. The LADC requires eight credits and this certification would not be possible with fewer adjunct credits available.

There are many very fine LADCs who were able to get their LADC because BSU offered the LADC and they did not have to relocate to do so.

Alcohol and drug abuse has been called the No. 1 public health threat in the U.S. It is urgent that prevention and intervention resources be maintained and increased as personal and societal costs are sky rocketing while public resources to tackle the issue rapidly decrease.

The costs of alcohol and drug abuse include youth and parent deaths due to overdose, accidents and suicide, injury, disabilities and life-long health problems, DUIs, sexual assault, family violence, family conflict that leads youth to leave home, child abuse and neglect and out-of-home place-ments, birth defects that lead to learning difficulties and long-term health challenges, and high truancy and drop-out rates.

I hope that BSU will seriously reconsider this plan to cut social work adjunct credits and dismantle the LADC. The greater Bemidji community clearly needs BSU to be a strong community partner by continuing to graduate well-trained LADCs both now and in the future.

Rebecca Schueller

Executive Director

Evergreen House Inc.