Alumna Alayna Woodley has held many administrative roles within the field of social work. Yet addiction to substances has figured prominently in all of them. At CODAC she can now tackle addiction head on.
“Substance use disorders are everywhere,” says Alayna Woodley, M.S.W. ’14, director of clinical services at CODAC Behavioral Healthcare. “It is prevalent in every field of social work I’ve gone into, in every position and in every patient population.”
“I’ve worked in child welfare where often the parents were struggling with substance use. I’ve worked in health care, where a patient might come in complaining of the flu but is also clearly struggling with alcohol. I’ve also worked at a housing and behavioral health-care facility for HIV AIDS-positive clients, many of whom contracted HIV through drug use. Today, more people contract HIV from sharing needles than through sexual transmission,” she says.
“So, when I was offered a position at CODAC, I thought, ‘What an opportunity.’ Now I’ll be able to build the programs that can help people struggling with addiction.”
CODAC is a nonprofit organization that has been providing outpatient treatment services for substance use disorders for more than 40 years.
“The majority of our clients come in with opiate or prescription opiate dependencies,” Woodley says. “Heroin and cocaine also feature prominently.”
CODAC’s standard treatment is a combination of medication that help with cravings and withdrawal and counseling; however, recently, a team approach was created, where for the first 90 days new clients work with a counselor, a case manager and a peer recovery specialist.
According to Woodley, “Research has shown that clients are most likely to relapse or disengage with treatment within the first 90 days. If you can get them engaged in treatment during that period, their long-term outcomes will be better.”
As a team, counselors treat the mental and behavioral health component; case managers assist clients in applying for food stamps, health insurance, housing and other necessities; and peer specialists bring real-world experience to the table.
“The peer specialist is able to say, ‘I’ve been there. I get what you’re going through. Here is how I recovered, and here is how I want to help you do it.’ It’s a great team effort,” she says.
CODAC has seven community clinics (methadone clinics) in Rhode Island and a new mobile unit that dispenses methadone. The mobile unit began this July and services Woonsocket, where currently there are no CODAC facilities. Woodley oversees the mobile unit as well as clinic operations at all seven CODAC sites in Rhode Island. Though she’s only been on the job 10 months, she is looking forward to creating programs for CODAC to expand its reach. “I’d like to put out a fleet of mobile units throughout Rhode Island,” she says. “Clearly, the need is there.”
Woodley credits RIC’s School of Social Work for helping her find where her strength lies – in policy and program development.
“In my first year in the M.S.W. program – the generalist year, we engage in both micro and macro coursework. Micro is clinical work and macro is policy and program work. It gave us the opportunity to discover which area we were better suited for. I chose macro work. I realized that there’s a great need on the administrative side to build good programs, and my internship in the second year helped solidify that for me. Being able to experience both the micro and macro side of social work is an incredible strength of RIC’s program.”
Since graduating, Woodley has been putting those skills into practice and helping Rhode Islanders rebuild their lives.