For those looking to be a beacon of hope for those with substance use disorders and their loved ones, Seton Hall's Division of Continuing Education and Professional Studies offers a can't-miss opportunity.
From September 21 - November 11, the Division will run the fall cohort of its iTHIRST Spiritual Companionship Certification Training Program, with live virtual classes held every Tuesday and Thursday, 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
The program is offered at a critical time. Per provisional data recently released by the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, more than 93,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2020, a 29.4% increase from the 72,151 deaths projected for 2019. Overdose deaths resulting from opioid use rose from 50,963 in 2019 to 69,710 in 2020 – a 37% increase.
"These data are chilling. The COVID-19 pandemic created a devastating collision of health crises in America," stated Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health, in the CDC press release.
The iTHIRST Program seeks to provide a spiritual remedy for the desolation, abandonment and guilt that are all "hallmarks" of the addicted life through specialized programs that students are trained to develop and implement. The iTHIRST Program also aims to provide support for treatment facilities and those incarcerated, and to develop an aftercare community for the afflicted and their families.
Those enrolled in this live virtual program will be trained to offer spiritual consolation and recovery resource information to the afflicted and their families and will work with their pastors to develop or supplement a recovery ministry that fits the needs of their parishes.
Upon completion, participants will be academically certified through both iTHIRST and Seton Hall University and will receive 4.8 Continuing Education Units.
"The Church has a powerful toolbox with iTHIRST. This initiative gives clergy, religious and lay people the skills needed to reach out to those with substance use disorders and the family and friends that love them."
– Karen F., an iThirst participant from Braintree, Mass.
The program is led by Keaton Douglas, alumna of Seton Hall's Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology and founder and executive director of the iTHIRST initiative, which is an acronym for "The Healing Initiative—Recovery, Spirituality and Twelve steps." The initiative seeks to give people in recovery the spiritual tools they need to stay clean and lead the faith-based fight against substance-use disorders, especially opioid use.
"So many people are suffering in silence because of the stigma of this disease," said Douglas. "We offer this training in dioceses and archdioceses throughout the nation so that the church might have a more amplified voice in this great societal malady."
To learn more and register, visit the iTHIRST Spiritual Companionship Certification Training Program page.
About the Division of Continuing Education and Professional Studies
Continuing Education offers a wealth of opportunities for those who wish to enhance their education, expand their skillset or pursue new interests. The Division provides superior programs and training in cutting-edge subject areas and trending topics, either on campus, off-site or online. Continuing Education, with its diverse offerings of credit, non-credit, degree, professional certificate and training programs, helps job-seekers and truth-seekers alike to learn what works to enhance their lives, improve the world and achieve success in their careers. Its programs are taught by distinguished University professors and leading practitioners in the field. Schedules are flexible and designed for the working professional or the adult student with a busy life. The Division also offers corporate and small business training, small group and independent learning.