SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Rep. David Chiu, D-San Francisco, said Wednesday that he introduced Law 666 to the congregation, which aims to promote the training of around 1,000 new counselors in treating addiction to opioids and other substances.

The bill would address the state’s shortage of drug addiction counselors by funding tuition fees, waiving testing and certification fees, and grants to diversify the state’s drug addiction counselors workforce, Chiu said.

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According to Chius’ office, around 2.7 million California residents met the criteria for drug addiction last year. However, the state had fewer than 20,000 accredited counselors to serve these residents.

“If we don’t have the workforce to treat substance use disorders, we will never see an end to this crisis,” said Chiu. “These efforts will build a pipeline of substance use disorders counselors and clinicians to help all Californians get the treatment they need.”

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The bill would also require the state agency for state health planning and development to analyze the needs of drug addiction counselors that could be addressed with new workers.

The bill is supported by the California Council of Community Behavioral Health Agencies, the California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals, and the California Association of Alcohol and Drug Program Executives, according to Chiu.

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AB 666 is expected to be heard by a legislative committee in the spring.