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MWCC Offering New Substance Abuse Counseling Program, Community Forum, in Response to Opioid Crisis

Mount Wachusett Community College has launched a new substance abuse counseling certificate program and is hosting a free community forum with NARCAN® training to bolster public resources and address the opioid crisis that is impacting our region, the state and the nation.

The free forum, Opiates in North Central Massachusetts: Education for Community-Wide Crisis Response, will take place on Monday, Oct 31 from 12 to 2:30 p.m. in the North Café at the Gardner campus. The public is encouraged to attend.

State Senator Jennifer Flanagan will serve as moderator. Panelists will include Fitchburg Police Chief Ernest Martineau, Michelle Dunn, co-director and president of Alyssa’s Place, Jack Maroney, CEO of Recovery Centers of America at Westminster, and Tamara E. Perini, MSW, LCSW UMass Memorial – HealthAlliance Hospital, and representatives from the Worcester County District Attorney’s Office.

The forum, part of the college’s continuing Tea Time Speaker Series, is sponsored by the MWCC Diversity Consortium, Gateway to College, and Project Healthcare, a workforce diversity pipeline program funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health.

Following the forum, Michael Ellis of Heywood Hospital will provide free NARCAN® training for participants. The prescription drug blocks the effects of opioids and can reverse an overdose.

“Today’s opioid users can be co-workers, family members, neighbors, friends, children, students and members of the community,” said Sharmese Gunn, senior learning specialist with MWCC’s Gateway to College program and forum coordinator. “Learning how to detect early use is one way to combat the epidemic that has plagued the region, and being prepared and educated can help save lives.”

Earlier this year, MWCC developed a new substance abuse counseling certificate following discussions with area healthcare providers. The 27-credit certificate program prepares students to obtain credentials in Massachusetts as a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC) and to seek employment within the industry. Area facilities are poised to open or expand to serve the needs of clients in various stages of recovery. Courses include Issues of Chemical Dependency in Family Systems, Addictions Counseling, Psychopharmacology and a practicum.

For more information about the free community forum or to RSVP, please visit: