New Consortium of Universities to Promote Addiction Science

The two allied fields of substance use treatment and prevention have decades of empirical evidence demonstrating the complex biopsychosocial nature of the disease, thus requiring a comprehensive response.  Many academic courses in addiction treatment are embedded within disciplines/programs  such as psychology, medicine, or social work.  However, this approach sometimes overlooks the unique multidisciplinary nature of substance use treatment.  Likewise, the field of prevention science can draw from the fields of psychology, public health, communication, and even business, where influencing human behaviour is guided by empirical research. In order to effectively train practitioners in science-based practices, and to impart knowledge and skills required to effectively provide services in the prevention and treatment of addictive disorders, INL/Colombo Plan has supported the development of two international curricula series – the Universal Treatment Curriculum (UTC) and Universal Prevention Curriculum (UPC). These comprehensive curricula have been used extensively by universities throughout the world to create or augment academic programs in addiction studies.

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 adapt the UTC and UPC in 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:

  1. To promote education in the field of substance use prevention and treatment through 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 given the opioid epidemic, and nearly 1 million existing American physicians and other medical or clinical professionals would benefit from continuing education to treat substance use disorders.
  2. To study, strengthen, adapt, and adopt the Universal Treatment Curriculum (UTC), Universal Prevention Curriculum (UPC), and their specialized series in whole or in part to support new and existing programs.  The materials are provided free of charge by the establishing Education Provider (EP) agreements with coordinating centres or international organizations.
  3. To structure educational programs with practica placements by developing a network of treatment and prevention organizations that would welcome student workers.
  4. To 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 undergo sabbaticals.
  5. To 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 that ICCE will recognize students’ credit hours of education and clinical hours of experience for the purpose of qualifying for the exam.
  6. To contribute to transnational science through conducting evaluations of the dissemination of the UPC/UTC and other curriculums.
  7. To create and support community-university partnerships and networks for the purpose of strengthening national labour markets for treatment and prevention professionals as well as public health perspective and advocating for the recognition and promotion of careers in addiction science within economic and political points of influence. The partnership could also discuss how best to develop career tracks for workers.  The network could also facilitate opportunities for employers and professionals to connect via vacancy announcements in a shared portal. 
  8. To connect ICUDDR with professional societies comprised of the addictions workforce, in particular the International Society of Substance Use Professionals (ISSUP). ISSUP offers forums for dialogue between the areas of academia and clinical practice. 
  9. To 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 delivery of quality prevention and treatment services development to provide quality services.
  10. To support an international networking for exchange programs for students (e.g. ERASMUS), teachers, trainers (e.g. SOCRATES) and for creating joint working groups for developing and scientific projects.
  11. To formulate a joint policy towards an international bodies in the field (like ISSUP, ISAJE, ICARA, SPR, EUSPR etc.) and establish a long-term collaboration and supportive programs (e.g. early careers platforms for young professionals etc.). 

All universities are welcome to join this network and access the training materials at no cost.