Substance Abuse Counseling Degrees and Certificates: Online Programs

Completing a program in substance abuse counseling could lead to a career as state-certified addictions counselor. Learn about program options and certification requirements. Schools offering Addiction Counseling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Are My Online Degree and Certificate Options in Substance Abuse Counseling?

If you're interested in becoming a certified substance abuse counselor, you have a variety of educational paths through which to help you do so. Through distance learning, you can pursue an undergraduate certificate, a bachelor's degree, a post-baccalaureate certificate or a master's degree in substance abuse or addictions counseling. All of these programs are offered online; however, some are more widely available than others. In some cases, addictions counseling is offered as an area of concentration within general counseling programs.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), substance abuse counseling is governed by individual state boards and is typically treated separately from other types of counseling (www.bls.gov). Virtually all states require the passage of an official addictions counseling certification exam, but the requirements to take that exam vary widely. Educational programs are typically designed to meet the requirements for certification in their respective states. Some states also require hands-on experience in addictions counseling prior to earning certification; this is in addition to the clinical practica required in virtually all degree and certificate programs.

Certificate/Degree Levels Undergraduate and post-baccalaureate certificates; bachelor's and master's degree
Common Degree Topics Patient assessment, holistic treatment, group therapy, family counseling, drugs and alcohol
Common Certificate Topics Case management, counseling, mental health disorders, interventions, drug and alcohol pharmacology
Learning Environment Primary communication is conducted through discussion boards, email, or chat rooms

What Will I Learn in an Online Degree Program?

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree programs in addiction studies or substance abuse counseling will teach you about the medical, psychological and cultural elements of addiction and recovery. Required courses will educate you in the chemical, neurological and pharmacological elements of drugs and alcohol, as well as teaching you how they affect behavior. You'll learn numerous skills to aid the recovery process, such as individual and group therapy, patient assessment, life skills training, family counseling, holistic treatment and relapse prevention. You'll also learn skills relevant to operating or working in substance abuse treatment centers.

You can earn an online Master of Science (M.S.) degree in addictions counseling or in general counseling with an addictions studies concentration. Required courses build on many of the theories and techniques introduced in an undergraduate program in counseling or addictions studies. Graduate-level coursework places greater emphasis on research, and most master's degree curricula requiring courses in substance abuse or psychopharmacological research. You'll also need to complete at least one in-depth clinical substance abuse practicum. Some programs may require a limited number of on-campus visits for mandatory residency workshops.

What Will I Learn in an Online Certificate Program?

Online undergraduate certificate programs in substance abuse counseling are available, albeit on a somewhat limited basis. Courses teach basic behavioral health counseling concepts, such as psychology, individual and group counseling, case management and mental health disorders. Required courses also cover areas more specific to substance abuse education and counseling, such as treatment planning and interventions.

Graduate-level certificates commonly require completion of at least six courses, which teach you about the foundations of drug and alcohol addictions and how to treat them. Course topics include theories of counseling, drug and alcohol pharmacology, treatment planning and health issues in substance abuse. You'll also learn how to conduct specific modes of treatment necessary in recovering from drug or alcohol addiction, such as family and group therapy. These options are meant for those who have bachelor's degrees in any area; some schools may prefer applicants with some experience working in an addictions rehabilitation setting.

How Do Online Programs Work?

As a student in an online substance abuse counseling certificate or degree program, you can complete all of your theoretical coursework from any location with an Internet-connected computer. Required clinical practicum hours can be completed at substance abuse treatment centers or related sites near you with advance approval from your school. Theoretical courses are generally transmitted through online teaching and learning platforms, like Blackboard or WebCT. These interactive course delivery systems allow you to access lectures, readings, assignments and exams. You can also use their chat, e-mail or message board functions to ask questions or make comments on course materials; such active participation is often factored into your grade.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Purdue University Global

    Purdue University Global responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Purdue University Global:

    Online Programs Available

  • Capella University

    Capella University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Capella University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Grand Canyon University

    Grand Canyon University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Grand Canyon University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master
      • Master - in Christian Counseling
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Colorado Christian University

    Colorado Christian University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Colorado Christian University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Southern New Hampshire University

    Southern New Hampshire University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Southern New Hampshire University:

    Online Programs Available

  • New England College

    New England College responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at New England College:

    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Keiser University

    Keiser University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Keiser University:

    • Associate Programs

    Online Programs Available

  • Independence University

    Independence University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Independence University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Saint Leo University

    Saint Leo University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Saint Leo University:

    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Davenport University

    Davenport University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Davenport University:

    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Certificates

    Online Programs Available

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