Drug Counselor Courses and Classes Overview

Courses in drug counseling are offered at both the certificate and degree levels and include training in addiction studies, counseling, ethics, and regulations. Read about some essential information for potential drug counselors, and get a list of classes that offer training in this field.

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Essential Information

Drug counselor courses are available at the associate's, bachelor's and master's degree levels, and some schools offer certificate programs as well. Although some drug counselor jobs require only a high school diploma and on-the-job training, completing a formal program can broaden the services a counselor offers. In some cases, employers may require drug counselors to have a master's degree. Drug counselors who hold a degree or certificate typically need less supervision than those with just a diploma, and they're prepared to provide one-on-one counseling for clients.

Here are some of the main concepts encountered in drug counselor courses:

  • Physiological effects of drug abuse
  • Basic counseling techniques
  • Psychology of addiction
  • Treatment methods for substance abuse
  • Family systems and dynamics
  • Substance abuse assessment

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List of Drug Counseling Courses

Introductory Drug Counseling Course

This course covers basics in counseling with an emphasis on working with patients who abuse drugs and alcohol. Students learn skills in counseling, interviewing and dealing with difficult clients. This course guides students through specific state-mandated policies for tracking counselor education hours and other certifications that may be necessary. The class covers the history of counseling as well as basic techniques and frameworks to apply when dealing with chemically dependent patients.

Abuse and Addiction Course

Before drug counselors begin their work, this course helps them understand addiction types, effects of drug addiction and the types of drugs that can cause addiction. With this knowledge, students can develop adequate treatment plans based on specific drug addictions. Topics include consequences of drug addiction, addictive personalities, hereditary circumstances and signals of abuse.

Individual Counseling Course

An individual counseling course presents topics in one-on-one therapy. Strategies for motivating change in individuals who are chemically dependent are explored. Students learn how to develop trusting relationships with their patients, and they discover techniques developed specifically for individual counseling. Additional topics may include conducting motivational interviews, setting treatment plans and dealing with patient relapse.

Family and Group Counseling Course

Sometimes, it may be appropriate to provide drug counseling in a group or family setting. A course in family and group counseling helps students develop group counseling techniques. Students learn why group counseling is effective for chemically dependent patients and how to develop group leaders. Other lessons demonstrate the value of role-playing. This course covers the effects that chemical dependency can have on marriages, children and families, while addressing co-dependency and intervention strategies. Ways to manage or refer family members who are affected by a patient's drug abuse are covered as well.

Adolescent Drug Addiction Course

This course is specific to a young person's drug counseling needs. Students learn how to screen and assess an adolescent who may be chemically dependent. Treatment plans and the type of care an adolescent with drug addiction needs will also be explored. Other topics in an adolescent drug addiction course include detoxification, peers, the juvenile justice system and available counseling services. Time is spent studying proven successes in adolescent addiction treatment and reasons why some treatment plans are more difficult.

Dependency Ethics and Law Course

Many laws pertain to patient confidentiality within counseling. In a dependency ethics and law class, students learn what their ethical and legal obligations would be after becoming licensed drug counselors. Federal, state and local laws are covered, including when and what to report regarding a patient's counseling session or treatment plan. This course may also make distinctions between general counseling laws and ethics versus chemical dependency counselor laws and ethics.

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