New Consortium of Universities to Promote Addiction Science and Workforce Development

The interrelated fields of addiction treatment and prevention have produced decades of empirical evidence demonstrating the complex, biopsychosocial nature of substance use disorders. Considering this complex reality, a comprehensive strategy for addiction treatment and prevention clearly is warranted.  Hundreds of existing academic programs in addiction treatment studies around the world often are embedded in a relevant discipline, such as psychology, public health, medicine, or social work.  However, such an approach sometimes overlooks the unique needs for, and benefits of, a multidisciplinary approach to substance use disorders. In parallel, the field of prevention science can draw from the fields of psychology, public health, communication, and even business, especially concerning application of empirical research findings to positively influencing human behavior.  In order to effectively train both treatment and prevention practitioners on evidence-based knowledge and skills for best practices, INL supported the development of two training series – the Universal Treatment Curriculum (UTC) and Universal Prevention Curriculum (UPC).  These comprehensive curricula have motivated faculty from universities to incorporate the curricula in their coursework.

In April 2016, INL joined with the Colombo Plan and the Organization of American States (OAS) to convene a panel of 20 university representatives from 12 countries in Honolulu, Hawaii to discuss how to best adopt the UTC and UPC for university settings.  The conversation was far reaching and university leaders, enthusiastic about promoting addiction studies programs, sought greater collaboration through this forum.  The group founded the International Consortium of Universities for Drug Demand Reduction, or ICUDDR.  

Participants agreed on the following objectives for this group:

Participants agreed on the following goals and objectives for this consortium:

I.    Promote Education and Training in the Field of Substance Use Prevention and Treatment.

a. Support the formation of academic programs at a time when demand is at an all time high.  For example, U.S. medical colleges are in the process of establishing addiction specialties in medicine because of the opioid epidemic, and nearly 1 million existing American physicians and other medical or clinical professionals could benefit from continuing education to prevent and treat substance use disorders.

b. Better integrate educational programs with practica by developing a network of treatment and prevention organizations that can engage students in field placement settings.

c. Support an international network for exchange programs for students (e.g., ERASMUS), teachers, and trainers (e.g., SOCRATES), and organize joint working groups for the development of scientific projects.

d. Develop relationships with international bodies in the field to serve as a resource for supporting career development programs (e.g., early career platforms for young professionals).


II.    Advance Applied Addictions-Related Treatment and Prevention Research.
a.    Support research guiding the adoption and adaptation of the Universal Treatment Curriculum (UTC), the Universal Prevention Curriculum (UPC), and their specialized series, in whole or in part, in order to support new and existing academic programs.  (Materials are provided free of charge by the establishing Education Provider (EP) agreements with coordinating centers or international organizations.)
b.    Contribute to translational science through the conduct of evaluations of the dissemination of the UTC and UPC within academic settings and beyond (e.g., governmental and non-governmental agencies, employers of health professionals).  As a function of EP agreements, collect data-rich trainee/student information that can be examined through this university consortium.

III.    Credentialing Professionals in the Workforce
a.    Offer the optional examination and credentialing program for professionals in the substance use treatment and prevention fields through the International Center for Credentialing and Education of Addiction Professionals (ICCE) of the Colombo Plan. EP agreements ensure recognition of students’ credit hours of education and clinical hours of experience for the purpose of qualifying for the exam.

IV.    Support University Networking and Coordination Worldwide.
a.    Develop and support community-university partnerships and networks for the purpose of strengthening national labor markets for treatment and prevention professionals, as well as advocating for the recognition and promotion of careers in addiction science within economic and political points of influence.  The partnerships could develop consensus regarding how to optimally develop career tracks for practitioners.  The networks also could facilitate opportunities for employers and professionals to connect via vacancy announcements in a shared portal.  
b.    Facilitate the exchange of information among participating countries, including the exchange of students and/or faculty across countries, where students can earn credits or undertake fellowships, and faculty can take sabbaticals.

V.    Facilitate Enhanced Multidisciplinary Integration in the Applied Addiction Fields.
a.    Connect ICUDDR with professional organizations and societies comprised of addictions practitioners and researchers from multiple disciplines, in particular the International Society of Substance Use Professionals (ISSUP) and International Society of Addiction Journal Editors (ISAJE).  ISSUP offers forums for dialogue between the areas of academia and clinical practice.
b.    Capitalize on the growing awareness that new and enhanced public and private prevention and treatment systems and services require a workforce educated and trained in the delivery of quality prevention and treatment services, programs and practices.

Universities from around the world are invited to join ICUDDR in this endeavor.  The second meeting of this consortium and associated networks will be hosted by Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic, June 20-21, 2017.  All universities are welcome to join the consortium and access the training materials, at no cost.  At this second meeting, ICUDDR will work to formalize a collaborative partnership. This will entail efforts to better define its structure and targeted membership, as well as the design for a work plan with concrete activities for the coming years.

INL looks forward to supporting this initiative as an important component in building a global drug demand reduction community of practice that creates and supports a partnership of researchers and practitioners in the addiction fields.

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