SGU Chemical Dependency Program Grows

Feb 15th, 1999 | By | Category: 10-3: Distance Education, Tribal College News

For many years, Sinte Gleska University’s (SGU) chemical dependency program has trained graduates to address the drug and alcohol problems on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota and elsewhere. Patrick Powers now heads the chemical dependency program. Powers, an Oglala tribal member, earned his master’s degree in psychology at Chadron State College in Chadron, Neb. As an intern at a Veteran’s Administration hospital in the addictions ward, a licensed and practicing counselor, and a recovered addict himself, Powers draws his expertise from a wide range of experience in the field.

Having a drug and alcohol degree program at Sinte Gleska is important, said Birdette Clifford, dean of human services, because of the degree of alcohol abuse on the reservation. For those looking for jobs in related fields, “the success rate is really good,” Clifford said. Since 1991 when he began working with the department, Clifford could only think of one graduate who did not find a job connected to his degree in human services/ chemical dependency. “The need is there, and they fill those positions,” he said.

“[Our program] gives someone an overview of the effects and chemistry of drugs and alcohol,” he said. Patrick Powers advocates a free-choice approach. “Get them back in touch with cultural routes, experience the Spirit, provide clear-thinking skills, and raise self-esteem. Create the environment of safety and choice.”

Several years ago, Sinte Gleska upgraded its associate of arts degree to a bachelor’s degree in human services with an emphasis in chemical dependency. Obtaining such a degree helps qualify students for potential certification in drug and alcohol counseling. At this time, to become a drug and alcohol counselor in South Dakota, you need certain courses and experience but not a degree. Clifford expects that in the near future, a degree in human services will be mandatory.

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