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Loan Foregiveness for Substance Abuse Counselors

Loan Foregiveness for Substance Abuse Counselors November 14, 2018Leave a comment

As a mental health counselor with a double masters in addictions in mental health counseling, I often hear from my colleagues that they do not want to counsel clients with addictions. It scares them.

Counseling those who suffer from addictions is not for the faint of heart. They often have severe behavior problems that are secondary to their addiction. At one point their behavior problems were most likely front and center, and they used a substance to help them cope. Those who suffer from addictions have learned to dodge true recovery and subsequently are really lousy at keeping appointments with their counselors. Addictions and “no-show” clients go together. Their ability to manage their finances is also problematic, and they often cannot afford the steep prices that are required to see a professional counselor. Professional counselors also spend an incredible amount of time, money and effort acquiring the education and experience required to become a licensed counselor. We often walk out of our programs in debt.

On October 24th President Donald Trump signed a bill that addressed the opioid crisis and provides forgiveness for students loans up to $250,000 for substance-use treatment professionals. The measure H.R. 6 is titled the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act. The bill was originally introduced as a separate standalone legislation by Representative Hal Rogers (R-KY) and Representative Katherine Clark (D-MA). The Rogers-Clark bill was incorporated into a package of measures that addressed the opioid crisis that passed on October 3, 2018.

To be eligible for the debt-forgiveness program, substance-abuse-treatment professionals are required to work in a full-time substance-use treatment position for up to six years in a geographical area with a shortage of mental health counselors or work in an area that is experiencing a high rate of overdose deaths. The bill further clarifies that mental and behavioral health providers participating in the National Health Service Corps can provide care at a school or other community-based setting located in HPSA as part of their obligated service requirements.  For more information, individuals can read (Sec. 7072) of bill H.R. 6 or look for updates here from Nu Vision Counseling Professionals in Vero Beach, Florida.

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