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JCC chemical-dependency degree program to begin Jan. 22

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North country residents who want to become chemical-dependency counselors now don’t have to leave Watertown for their education.

Jefferson Community College recently announced its new associate of applied science degree in chemical dependency, which will help prepare students to take the written portion of the credentialed alcohol and substance abuse certification through the state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services.

“We know they want to work in prevention or treatment, and for us that means more employees,” said James P. Scordo, executive director of Credo Community Center for the Treatment of Addictions. “When they come with that training, they hit the ground running.”

According to a news release issued by JCC, students can apply immediately for admission to the chemical-dependency program for spring-semester classes that begin Jan. 22.

The curriculum includes 18 hours in chemical dependency and six hours in human services theory and application. Also featured will be field work placement at Credo, Samaritan Medical Center, the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Council of Jefferson County or Fort Drum Behavioral Health or private counseling centers.

Work-related and educational credit hours will be applied toward students’ certification.

Mr. Scordo said the closest college that offers the same program is North Country Community College, Saranac Lake.

While there typically are not enough workers to meet the demands in the behavioral-health field in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties, Mr. Scordo said, JCC’s degree program could attract more area residents to the field.

The Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization looked at the health care needs of the community and helped JCC recruit the degree program here.

Those who complete the program may choose to climb the educational and professional ladder by taking advantage of other local behavioral-health programs; with the planning organization’s help, JCC also offers a bachelor’s degree in social work through Keuka College, Keuka Park, and is awaiting state approval for a master’s degree program in social work.

“We’ll soon be able to make that from beginning to end,” Mr. Scordo said. “When I got my master’s in social work in 1986, I had to travel to Ogdensburg.”

According to JCC’s news release, graduates of the chemical-dependency program will be prepared for employment as entry-level counselors, intake coordinators, administrative staff and relief staff, among other positions.

The degree can be completed through part-time or full-time study on campus, with some evening and online classes.

To enroll, call JCC’s admissions office at 786-2277 and the financial services office at 786-2355. Course registration for new students begins Nov. 5.

More information can be found on JCC’s website, www.sunyjefferson.edu.

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