The ranks of school drug and alcohol counselors are thinning as grant funding to pay for these positions declines, The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. Some school administrators view drug and alcohol programs as luxuries that they can no longer afford.
But Martha Harding of the Hazelden Foundation told the newspaper that alcohol and drug counselors hired by Minnesota schools in the mid-1990s played a big part in driving down rates of teen alcohol and drug use. She says she is concerned that as school programs disappear, some of these gains will be lost.
Chris Otto, head of the Minnesota School Counselors Association, said that drug counselors who remain in schools are doing everything from administering tests to monitoring lunchrooms, in addition to their counseling duties.
While positions for school drug and alcohol counselors are disappearing, they are growing in the private sector, according to the article. The Minnesota Board of Behavioral Health and Therapy says there are about 2,280 licensed alcohol and drug counselors in the state, an increase of more than 50 percent from five years ago. Roy Kammer, Coordinator of Alcohol and Drug Studies at Minnesota State University-Mankato, told the newspaper that treatment centers are a more appealing option than schools, which offer less pay and stability.