Online Drug Counseling Certificate Programs

Certificate programs educate drug and alcohol counselors on current treatment and prevention ideas, while preparing them for state licensure. Learn about online programs with Drug Counseling courses. Get an overview of the program types, requirements and course descriptions available for this field.

Essential Information

Undergraduate certificate programs are available fully online; however, students may need to complete exams at a proctored location. Depending on the school or location, this certificate may prepare students for legal certification. It's possible to earn a postbaccalaureate educational certificate in drug counseling through an entirely online program. These programs are designed to prepare bachelor's holders to earn licensure and take about three years to complete.

Online Availability Hybrid
Degree Levels Available Ceritificate, Post-baccalaureate
Important Prerequisites High School Diploma, GED, Background check
In-Person Requirements Exams

Undergraduate Drug Counseling Certificate

Drug and alcohol counseling programs, also called addiction counseling or drug and alcohol studies programs, prepare students to work as chemical dependency counselors in addiction treatment facilities, social services offices or other facilities. Individual states have specific guidelines for licensing chemical dependency counselors. Online undergraduate certificate programs are intended to prepare students for legal certification, but they do not guarantee it.

Information and Requirements

Entering students must have a high school diploma or GED. A background check may be required. In an online program, students communicate with instructors and fellow students via course websites and e-mail. Students are expected to log on a minimum two or three times per week. Exams may need to be completed in a supervised environment with a proctor.

Personal computers should have recent operating systems and web browsing software. Schools may provide security software. Some specify Microsoft Office for completing assignments.

List of Common Undergraduate Drug Counseling Courses

Courses train counselors for drug and alcohol abuse prevention and dependency management in a range of treatment settings. Students learn how to appropriately treat minors, groups and families.

Substance Abuse Group Interaction

This course explores the goals and dynamics of group counseling. Students develop skills for facilitating addiction management and recovery with multiple people.

Adolescent Substance Abuse

Students examine the particular characteristics of drug and alcohol use and dependency in minors. In this course, they gain an understanding of how young people get access to alcohol and drugs and the effects these chemicals have on development.

Drug Counseling for Diverse Populations

Approaches to substance abuse prevention and management can be tailored to distinct populations. Students learn how race, culture, age, gender and sexual orientation are factors in both drug and alcohol use and treatment methods.

Graduate Drug Counseling Certificate Program Overview

Graduate certificate programs train counselors for higher levels of professional licensure and employment. Class lessons are based on current scientific research to keep treatment professionals up-to-date on the most recent theories and treatment techniques. Most online graduate certificate programs must be completed within three years.

Information and Requirements

Some schools have minimum age requirements for applicants. Entering students must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited school. Course syllabi are available online, detailing activities, assignments and due dates. In most programs, communication with school faculty occurs primarily by e-mail, although they can be reached by phone. There is generally no structured time of day for instruction and discussion forum participation. Students log in and review course material whenever convenient. Workload varies by course, but students can expect to spend 5-20 hours each week per class.

High-speed Internet is recommended. Personal computers should have recent versions of operating systems and web browsers. Certain classes require multi-media software that can be downloaded for free.

List of Common Graduate Level Courses

Students learn about the theories behind chemical abuse and addition. Courses explore treatment options and help counselors to distinguish appropriate prevention and management options.

Alcohol and Drug

While this course examines the use and abuse of ethyl alcohol in depth, it also provides a comprehensive education of other mood-altering chemicals. Students identify the symptoms of alcohol and drug addiction and review current methods of substance abuse prevention and treatment.


This course discusses the treatment of substance abuse with prescription drugs. It also covers pharmacological treatment in individuals with coexisting mental health problems.

Ethical and Legal Issues

This class is heavily discussion-based. Students explore legal and ethical issues faced by drug and alcohol prevention and counseling professionals, including appropriate relationships between clients and counselors.

Career Information

According to the BLS, substance abuse social workers had a mean annual wage of $41,380 as of May 2014 ( Substance abuse counselors had a mean annual wage of $38,520 as of May 2012. Social workers in general could expect job growth of 19%, and substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors could expect job growth of 31%, both faster than the average for all occupations, from 2012-2022, the BLS projected. Wages and openings vary substantially according to geographic region. Counselors and social workers who are willing to move to underserved areas should have excellent job prospects.

Continuing Education Information

Some schools allow credits from the certificate program to be applied toward a bachelor's or graduate degree. For further education opportunities, students can pursue a master's or doctorate degree in addition and clinical counseling or addiction studies.

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