Illinois Certification Board Authorizes USF to Offer Combined Mental Health and Substance Abuse Program

Joliet, Ill. – The University of St. Francis (USF) has received Illinois Certification Board authorization to offer a specific program designed to combine both mental health and substance abuse training and education in its Substance Abuse Counseling program. The authorization places USF in select company among its Illinois peers, as only a handful of the state’s colleges and universities offer a similar program.

“Substance use and mental health disorders are often diagnosed together in patients,” said Lawrence Dunbar, USF professor and Substance Abuse Counseling program coordinator.

“Mental illness and substance use both occur on a continuum of severity in people. We see a varied population with ranges from slight or moderate issues to truly severe and profound. Mental illness and substance use both occur on a continuum of severity, and can vary independently and concurrently across individuals, within individuals, across time and between settings,” Dunbar said.

The Illinois Certification Board and the Substance Abuse Counseling program at the University of St. Francis both endorse the concept that the treatment of dually diagnosed substance use and mental health disorders is a specialty field requiring performance by competent professionals, Dunbar explained.

Students that complete the Substance Abuse Counseling degree program at USF, and complete the CADC credential, will have fulfilled the education requirements for the Co-Occurring Substance Use and Mental Health Disorder Professional Level 1 Registration (CODP-1) as credentialed by the Illinois Certification Board.

“It is in the news every day. There is an alarming amount of problematic use of alcohol and other drugs. In many cases there are, in addition, co-occurring mental health problems. Physical problems, difficulty at work, deteriorating relationships, and ultimately, death, dictate that our society provide care and counsel to people where mental illness and substance use coexist,” Dunbar said.

The CODP-1 registration, in addition to the CADC certification, helps prepare students to work in this difficult but growing field. This is a highly valued and requested combination of credentials, education and experience by Illinois behavioral health providers.

“The CODP-1 is a credential combining human services with behavioral science. We will lead and mentor students through at least 21 semester hours of AOD education and 6 semester hours in mental illness education,” Dunbar said.

“The Substance Abuse Counseling program at the USF prepares students to become the professionals that we need to go out into the community and assist others in their rebuilding their lives, creating healthy relationships and putting families back together,” Dunbar added.

For more information on USF’s Substance Abuse Counseling program, visit

The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves over 4,000 students nationwide, offering undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 50,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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