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Accredited Colleges Offering Substance Abuse Counseling Degrees

Substance abuse counselors are professionals who provide counsel to individuals who may be suffering due to addictive behavior. The type of addictions that counseling professionals treat on a regular basis include but are not limited to alcohol, gambling, food, recreational drugs, and prescription drugs. Although aspiring substance abuse counselors may find supervised positions with just an associate degree, it is more common to hold at least a bachelor's degree in the field. Seeking a graduate degree may aid individuals in standing out among their peers. There are several different healthcare settings in which professionals can seek work including hospitals, private offices, and mental healthcare facilities.  

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Associate Degrees in Substance Abuse Counseling

Students can graduate with their associate degree in substance abuse counseling in just two years by completing 60-credit hours of required study. This concentrated track of study will help to equip students with the necessary skills to walk patients through their drug or alcohol addictions and into full recovery. Students will participate in classes like introduction to substance abuse, physiology of substance abuse, law and ethics, and case management. General education courses are also part of the curriculum at this degree level. In order to ensure students receive hands on experience that will prepare them for work in the field, some schools require students to participate in an internship, usually towards the end of their studies.

Upon graduation, individuals may be prepared to enter entry-level positions as substance abuse counselors. Individuals may also be well prepared to move forward with their education. In order to qualify for an associate degree program, applicants will need to submit their high school transcripts. If the applicant is not a high school graduate a GED certificate will be sufficient. If applicable, all college transcripts will also need to be turned in. The average tuition for this level of program ranges from $6,676 to $7,848. 

Bachelor's Degrees in Substance Abuse Counseling

Individuals interested in earning their bachelor's degree in substance abuse counseling can earn their degree in four years. A typical bachelor's degree program is made up of 120-credit hours and includes courses like medical terminology, families and health, humanities choice, multicultural counseling in a diverse society, relapse prevention, and process addictions. Through participating in these classes, individuals will gain in depth knowledge of the choices that humans make when it comes to substance abuse and how to help individuals navigate through their addictions in ways that are right for them. Students will also learn to provide support and counseling to the families of individuals who are involved in substance abuse. In addition to traditional classes, students may also participate in internships in order to receive practical training in preparation for their careers.

Admission requirements include a high school transcript or GED certificate as well as any college transcripts that the applicant may have. In some cases the school may also require that the applicant participate in an admissions interview in order to showcase academic potential. Tuition will vary depending on the school and length of program, however the average tuition that students can expect to pay ranges between $16,695 and $33,390. 

Master's Degrees in Substance Abuse Counseling

In the field of substance abuse counseling, earning a master's degree may help to open up more unsupervised career options at hospitals, clinics, and private offices. A graduate degree will take students two to three years to finish and will most often be comprised of 36 to 48 credit hours. Key courses that are available at this degree level are counseling theories, substance abuse prevention, neurobiology of addiction, co-occurring disorders, family issues and addictive disorders, and clinical supervision. Participants may also complete an internship during their studies.

In order to be admitted into a graduate program applicants will need to hold a bachelor's degree in a like discipline and will need to turn in all college transcripts. Some programs will require that the applicants have at least a 2.8 GPA from their undergraduate study. The average total cost of education for a master's degree program is between $14,040 and $24,864.  

Doctoral Degrees in Substance Abuse Counseling

Although there are a limited number of programs at the doctoral level, earning a doctoral degree in substance abuse counseling can aid individuals in opening their own private practice. It also opens doors for professionals who are interested in teaching their craft at the university level. Depending on the school and program of attendance, this level of program will typically take students three to seven years to complete. The length of study may also depend on the individual's enrollment as a full time or part time student.

Courses in which students will participate in include practical psychopharmacology in addiction treatment, multicultural issues in addiction, addiction research, and advanced inferential statistics. All students will also be required to write and successfully defend a dissertation. I

ndividuals who are interested in pursuing a doctoral degree will need to ensure that they have met all of the admission requirements. These requirements include the completion of a master's program with a GPA of at least 3.0 and a current professional resume outlining all past experience within the counseling field. The total cost of education for this degree level averages $54,788, however students can often reduce the cost of their education by transferring accredited credits from previously attended institutions. 


Accreditation is an important part of post secondary education. When a program has been awarded accreditation, it means that it has passed a minimum set of standards to ensure quality education for each student involved. Not only does accreditation ensure quality education but also it allows students the opportunity to transfer credits if they wish switch schools or programs at any time during their education pursuit. Accreditation can also play a role in the hiring process as many employers look for accredited on their candidate's resumes. Individuals who are looking for program-specific accreditation can seek programs accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP). CACREP provides accreditation for counseling programs at the graduate level. Individuals seeking CACREP accredited programs can search them directly through the organization's directory


Certification requirements may vary by state so it is important that individuals interested in career in substance abuse counseling check their state's requirements prior to enrolling in any certification program. Certification is also a path towards professional development and is often preferred by employers. The National Certification Commission for Addiction Professionals (NCC AP) provides certification for professionals who work aiding individuals in healing from addictions including counselors. There are several exams that counseling professionals can take in order to earn their credentials, which will be taken based on the professionals area of expertise. The requirements vary by exam but the requirements are based on educational background and professional experience. 


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