seen as paraprofessionals who are not as skilled or trained as practitioners with graduate training and professional licensure. The stigma of addiction contributes to the low prestige and the view that counselors who treat only alcohol and other drug use disorders are not full professionals. Because much of the SUD workforce lacks graduate training and is unlicensed, the individuals who fill these positions accept low salaries. Low salaries in turn enhance the perception that the positions lack professional status. Staff turnover is a related issue, as industries with lower salary levels tend to have higher levels of turnover. Annual turnover rates in SUD counseling positions approach 25 percent (Eby and Rothrauff-Laschober, 2012). As a result, treatment programs are constantly recruiting and training new staff, who tend to be entry-level and to require more training investment.
The U.S. military faces similar staffing challenges for SUD counselors. While higher salaries and a focus on graduate-trained individuals with professional licensure could help address some of these staffing challenges, the stigma of addiction lingers and makes positions focused on addiction treatment less attractive. Full integration with mental health and primary care services could enhance the professional status and prestige of treating alcohol and other drug use disorders.
Finding 8-6: Each of the military branches could benefit from a better trained and staffed prevention workforce.
While the statement of task for this study did not specifically require an examination of SUD prevention providers, during the course of its review the committee learned that each branch could benefit from improved workforce standards and staffing for SUD prevention as well as treatment.
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