Del Mar College offers degree in addiction studies

Students learn
to counsel people
through recovery

Sarah Fecht / Reporter

National Recovery Month creates awareness, prevention and treatment for substance abuse and mental health disorders and also urges people to reach out for recovery. Even though Recovery Month ended at the end of September, there is always a need for people to reach out for help. Substance abuse and treatment programs aren’t always well-known or talked about. However, it is an unfortunate reality for countless individuals and their families.

Del Mar College has a counseling degree program for students who wish to help those through recovery and prevention education. This program is under the Health Science Department with an emphasis on addiction studies. This is a two-year program, providing classes, experience and an associate degree to qualify to test for the Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC) certification. Through this program, students gain experience by volunteering at treatment facilities, gaining required credit hours and becoming counselor interns before testing for their LCDC with the state.

Ruben Garcia, Ph.D., is the assistant professor of the Addiction Studies Program, located at the Del Mar College West Campus. Garcia has been with the program for 22 years as an adjunct instructor and in September was promoted and took over the assistant professor position when the previous professor, Patricia Shufelt, retired. Garcia is an LCDC as well as a licensed marriage and family counselor and has a private counseling business outside of Del Mar College. He graduated from the program himself in 1982, back when it was known as the Mental Health Program. It has since grown and evolved into the Addiction Studies Program.

“This program teaches students how to counsel people with addiction,” Garcia said. “Eighty percent of our students are in recovery themselves and this is what motivated them to pursue this career and help others like themselves.

“Being sober since 1982 and in recovery myself, that was my motivation to give back and help people. I want these students to be world changers, helping people, one person at a time,” Garcia said while smiling.

One student of the Addiction Studies Program, Tammy Jackson, has a heartfelt desire to help others in need. Jackson, now in her second year in the program, will be earning her associate degree at Del Mar College in addiction studies and health sciences. From here, she plans to continue on to Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi to pursue her bachelor’s degree in mental health, minoring in social work. She hopes to get her LCDC and “help people with the right resources while they are recovering,” she said.

“Social work was always impressed upon us in my family. We were taught it was important to help others and give back. I know people around me that have struggled or are struggling with this and I want to help them,” Jackson said.

“There are stereotypes attached with addiction and they are not true,” Jackson said. “People need to know it’s not only in the courtroom but in the boardroom.”

Addiction does not discriminate and it can happen to anybody. It is a lot broader community than most think and Del Mar College is benefiting that community through this program, equipping students to help those in need.

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