Drug and Alcohol Counseling Major: Information and Requirements

If your career goal is to become a counselor for individuals struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction, you can start by earning a bachelor's degree in counseling and addiction studies. Learn about program specifics and future options for graduates.

Essential Information

A Bachelor of Science in Counseling and Addiction Studies program prepares students to work with individuals struggling with drug or alcohol addiction. Some programs emphasize training in patient assessment and treatment, while focus on education and prevention strategies. Students must have a minimum of a high school diploma or GED to be admitted into the program.

Students can expect to spend time studying addictive populations, abnormal psychology, statistics, social work, and the mechanisms of chemical dependence. In many cases, they must also complete general education courses in communication, psychology, science, and mathematics. After graduation, many students pursue master's degrees in counseling, which are required for professional licensure as a private counselor.


Bachelor's in Counseling and Addiction Studies

Coursework in bachelor's degree programs in counseling and addition studies provides students with a theoretical understanding of psychology and a practical understanding of counseling basics. Common courses include:

  • Introduction to substance abuse
  • Assessment and treatment techniques
  • Family therapy
  • Group methods
  • Methods of individual counseling
  • Developmental psychology

Employment Options and Salary Info

A drug and alcohol counselor works with individuals and groups of people who are suffering from addictions to drugs and alcohol. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors was expected to rise 22% from 2014-2024, which was much higher than the national average for all occupations. The mean annual wage for substance abuse counselors was $42,920 in 2015.

Continuing Education Options

Many students who graduate from a bachelor's degree program in drug and alcohol counseling go on to earn a master's degree in the field, such as a Master of Arts in Substance Abuse Counseling. Such a degree program can provide more advanced training and experience in methods of counseling and addiction studies. Many states require aspiring substance abuse counselors to hold master's degrees before applying for licensure, while others require only a certificate and some professional experience. Organizations such as The Association for Addiction Professionals offer national certification options as well.

If you want to become a drug or alcohol counselor, a bachelor's degree in counseling and addition studies can be a great place to start. These programs provide the general education and specialized training that prepares students for master's degree programs and eventual professional licensure.


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