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Substance Abuse Therapy Classes and Courses Overview

Students taking substance abuse therapy classes learn the behaviors of people who abuse drugs and alcohol. In addition, they learn techniques for helping individuals overcome their addiction. These courses are often taken as part of a full graduate program.

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Essential Information

Substance abuse therapy classes are typically offered through master's degree programs in substance abuse counseling, psychology or marriage and family therapy, as well as through graduate certificate programs in substance abuse counseling. Counseling programs often include applied counseling practica in which students get the opportunity to work with clients at an agency.

A master's degree and successful completion of the state's licensure exam are commonly required for licensure as a substance abuse counselor. Although most certificate and degree programs in the field include internships, possessing between 2,000 and 4,000 post-degree work experience hours is also a requirement for licensure.

Here are concepts generally covered in substance abuse therapy courses:

  • Psychopharmacology
  • Counseling theories
  • Treatment continuum
  • Relapse prevention
  • Case management
  • Lifespan development
  • Co-occurring disorders

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List of Classes

Introduction to Substance Abuse Course

Introductory substance abuse therapies classes focus on the study of psychoactive substances and addictive behaviors. Topics may include the pharmacology of addictive substances, the psychological effects of substance abuse, withdrawal and detoxification, cross addiction and the sociological impact of drug use. Students examine how people who are under the long term influence of drugs or alcohol act, and they also study recovery models. Additionally, this class covers the ethical requirements specific to substance abuse counselors.

Family Substance Abuse Treatment Course

When individuals abuse drugs or alcohol, it affects their friends and family as well as themselves; through this course, students learn ways to aid families of substance abusers. The course explores how the family functions normally and how substance abuse changes that. Students explore different types of rehabilitation and how they could affect family members, as well as other problems that could erupt.

Counseling Theories and Techniques Course

Courses on counseling techniques provide an overview of treatment methods and how they specifically apply to substance abuse counseling. Topics may include preventing and managing relapse, empathy, active listening and ethical issues, and techniques are studied to structure therapy for either an individual or a group. Students discuss different types of substance abuse therapies, including reality therapy, client-centered therapy and rational-emotive therapy. Prerequisite classes for substance abuse therapies classes in counseling may include introductory psychology classes.

Counseling Practicum

In this course, students take the concepts learned in the classroom and apply them to a work-based practicum under the direct supervision of a professional substance abuse counselor. Students gain practical experience working with clients; they learn to handle the needs of specific populations and deal with uncooperative or resistant clients.

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