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Governor Newsom Signs Bill to Increase Substance Use Disorder Counselor Workforce

For immediate release:

(SACRAMENTO, CA) – California is facing a critical shortage of substance use disorder counselors needed to help people who are struggling with addiction. Despite roughly 2.7 million Californians having an addiction, there are fewer than 20,000 substance use disorder counselors statewide. Assemblymember Ward’s AB 1860, which was signed into law by Governor Newsom, will help close this gap so Californians can get on the path to recovery as soon as possible. 

“We’re losing thousands of people in California to drug overdoses every year,” said Assemblymember Ward (D-San Diego). “AB 1860 will streamline the process for graduate students to gain critical field experience, while entering the workforce sooner so they can begin saving lives.” 

Under current state law, graduate student interns are required to be placed in a field program to gain experience. However, students can only be placed in programs that meet strict oversight standards and supervision. AB 1860 will remove the requirement for graduate students interns who are pursuing a career in psychology, marriage and family therapy, social work or counseling to complete supervised hours with a certifying organization. 

California will need to greatly expand the substance use disorder treatment counselor workforce to match the need as the opioid epidemic continues to evolve and impose a serious threat to public health. According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, more than 6,000 Californians die from drug overdoses each year

"All communities deserve equal access to treatment to help us fight the opioid epidemic,” said Robb Layne with the California Association of Alcohol & Drug Program Executives. “We all recognize the devastating impact illegal drugs have on our communities. AB 1860 by Assemblymember Ward is part of the solution and will help provide help for people struggling with a substance use disorder. CAADPE is proud to sponsor this vital bill to help close our employment gap and help everyone get the care they need to combat their substance use disorder.”