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Education Standards

By Kim Johnson, ICUDDR

April 2021

There is a lot of talk about addiction treatment quality these days. You may have seen the UNODC-WHO international standards document. The standards are for treatment systems of care based on seven key principles.

You are probably also aware of the GCCC’s competency-based certification process which includes testing to demonstrate knowledge and required field experience to demonstrate skills in providing addiction treatment Getting an ICAP credential may be a useful goal for your students in addiction studies programs.

ICUDDR began a process last fall to develop education standards for programs that train the addiction workforce. The work group has had three meetings and has now broken into two working groups. There are two research tasks that are underway. The first is to document and crosswalk national standards from as many countries as we can find. We are trying to see if there are industry specific education standards. The answer seems to be mostly no – no government or outside body has requirements for what universities teach in regards to addiction. We are also cataloguing whether there are provider standards similar to GCCC that the government requires for certification or licensure as an addiction specialist. We will develop a crosswalk of the national standards and the GCCC standards to find common themes and elements.

The second study is to document what course content is already offered by universities. We are working on developing a crosswalk of courses by title, and, where we can obtain them, learning objectives. Your response to our member survey during the winter will be very helpful in this respect. We will use this crosswalk as a baseline. Once we have these two studies completed, we will compare the content and the work group will develop a draft set of guidelines that we will share with you for feedback. We expect to host a series of discussions in 2022 and 2023 regarding the proposed standards.

The cataloguing of standards and courses is a little bit tedious, but necessary to develop a fair and representative set of standards to which we can begin to hold ourselves to. It will be a great step forward when we have a consensus document on what course content needs to be offered to people who hope to work in this field.