Radford University's new curriculum helps fight addiction

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RADFORD, Va. (WDBJ7) Radford University is fighting substance use disorders by training students how to treat people who are struggling.

A grant is funding a new curriculum that will combat addiction in the New River Valley with a goal of making a big impact in the area.

"We expect it to make an impact. We expect it to be like an extra arm for the Community Service Board so that the students can help meet more patient needs," said Vicki Bierman, the director of this program and an associate professor of nursing.

A nearly two million dollar federal grant from the he U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration was just awarded to the Radford University Waldron College of Health and Human Services to help train students on how to deal with and treat real-world substance use problems.

Students will partner with the Pulaski County Drug Court and New River Valley Community Services to help those people with drug and alcohol use issues.

"So that's one way of us as educators training our students to be well equipped to handle those folks who are using substances in the near future," Bierman said.

Students will learn to provide real-world care with a focus on substance use in rural America. Typically those are people who are less likely to have interventions.

The curriculum combines several disciplines on campus like nursing and counselor education to help cross train students.

"They're learn how to work with each other, they'll gain the knowledge and skills to work with people who are using substances and help make an impact on these rural and medically underserved areas," Bierman said.

Their long term goal is to increase the number of trained rural behavioral healthcare providers to prevent and treat substance use issues.