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San Francisco Assemblyman's Bill Targets New Training Of Substance Abuse Counselors

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, said Wednesday that he has introduced Assembly Bill 666  intended to spur the training of some 1,000 new counselors to treat addiction to opioids and other substances.

The bill would target the state's dearth of substance addiction counselors by funding tuition assistance, waivers for testing and certification fees and grants to diversify the state's substance addiction counselor workforce, according to Chiu.

Roughly 2.7 million California residents met the criteria for a substance addiction last year, according to Chiu's office. However, the state had fewer than 20,000 accredited counselors to serve those residents.

"If we do not have the workforce to treat substance use disorders, we will never see an end to this crisis," Chiu said. "This effort will build a pipeline of substance use disorder counselors and clinicians so all Californians can get the treatment they need."

The bill would also require the state's Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development to analyze the substance addiction counselor workforce's needs that could be addressed with new workers.

The bill has the support of the California Council of Community Behavioral Health Agencies, California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals, and California Association of Alcohol and Drug Program Executives, according to Chiu.

AB 666 is expected to be heard by a legislative committee this spring.


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