Classes for Aspiring Addictions Workers: Class and Course Overviews

Essential Information

Individuals interested in working with people with substance abuse issues have many options. Students can take courses at the certificate or associate's level and can qualify for certification after completion. People interested in becoming mental health counselors or psychologists can go on to earn bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees. Addiction counselor training programs usually have an internship and/or practicum component that includes direct client contact. Licensure requirements for substance abuse or addiction counselors vary by state.

Here is a list of topics commonly explored in addiction courses:

  • 12-step program
  • Etiology of addiction
  • Counseling theories
  • Chemical dependency
  • Relapse prevention
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders

List of Common Courses

Introductory Addictions Course

Participants learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of alcohol or drug dependency. Extensive training is given on how chemicals are absorbed and metabolized by the body, as well as the effects of alcohol. Risk factors for alcoholism and the legalities of alcohol misuse are explored. Participants learn about how 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous work.

Family Recovery

This course revolves around codependency and helping families deal with addicted relatives. Recovery strategies and the long-term effects of chemical dependency on children and spouses are examined. Students also learn some practical treatment techniques.

Substance Abuse Counseling Techniques

In this course, students learn how to counsel patients with substance addictions. Topics include reality therapy, psychoanalytic theory, behavior therapy and existential theory. Upon completing the course, students should understand several counseling techniques and addiction theories.


Students learn to identify various substances and the different ways in which the brain reacts to chemical stimulants, hallucinogens, and depressants. Causes of drug addiction are discussed, along with various treatments.

Group Counseling

Group counseling training is sometimes comprised of a series of courses. Students receive practical training through leading and supervising others in group therapy sessions. They develop communication skills and the ability to monitor small groups of participants simultaneously. Students may take part in group therapy role-playing as a method of honing their leadership skills.

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