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Guide to Drug and Alcohol Counseling Studies Programs
Over 60,000 Americans died from a drug overdose in 2016. That same year 88,000 people died from alcohol-related causes.
Unfortunately, those numbers don’t seem to be falling. It’s also incredibly likely you know someone who has been affected by drugs and/or alcohol.
You want to help, which is why you’re looking into pursuing a career in drug and alcohol counseling services.
But first, you need to know which studies program is right for you. Read this guide to help you get the education you deserve.
What You’ll Need Before You Apply to a Program
What’s exciting, is that the field of drug and alcohol counseling has options when it comes to which educational path you choose.
Entry-level positions within the field in California require training. In addition to having the course training in individual and group counseling, dual diagnosis, law and ethics, pharmacology, case management, intervention and prevention, relapse and recovery, and clinical internship, field experience is required before becoming certified. Students will need equal to one semester of supervised fieldwork internship in order to be certified through the California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals (CCAPP).
To work in drug and alcohol counseling, you’ll need to study a few specific courses while pursuing your bachelor’s degree. Classes in psychology, counseling, and mental health are necessary for acquiring your academic credentials.
If you choose to focus on a specific field, you may choose to earn a Masters’s or Doctorate degree. A higher degree will also impact your salary level, increase work opportunities, and enable you to be more in charge of your career.
Once your degree has been earned, you’ll need some actual hands-on experience. You’ll begin by working as a counselor and collecting clinical practice hours.
The Temperament Needed for Drug and Alcohol Counseling
Not everyone has the temperament to make it as a drug and alcohol counselor. It’s hard and demanding work.
People’s lives are on the line. They need help and they’re often desperate.
If you can maintain your composure when other people are upset, it’s a good sign you’ll do well in this industry. You’ll also need to be highly adaptable.
Those struggling with drug and alcohol issues sometimes behave in a volatile manner and can seem to change personalities quickly. You’ll also need excellent communication and interpersonal skills.
Listening actively is a huge part of the job description. This is a stressful job and demanding job. The hours may not be 9-5, either.
You’ll need to find ways to take care of your mental and physical help while you help others. if you don’t have a healthy outlet, you may not last long.
You’ll also need to be able to think critically and have integrity. Gossiping about your patients isn’t okay.
Volunteering is an excellent way to earn relevant drug and alcohol counseling experience. It will give you first-hand experience to see if this type of work is right for you.
While volunteering you can also determine what career path is best for you based on your experiences. You’ll also be in the position to make great contacts who can help you find a position once your education has been completed.
Associates Degree Programs
While obtaining an associate’s degree, you’ll learn the fundamentals of drug and alcohol counseling. That includes learning how to work with your clients and their families.
An associate’s degree program also includes a liberal arts education. Before enrolling in such a program, research your state’s regulations regarding counseling others.
To begin counseling others you’ll need to achieve 315 hours of approved education from a CAADAC-approved institution.
After obtaining an associate’s degree you may find you’re too limited earning such a degree and choose to pursue a higher level of education.
However, even if your dream is to pursue a higher level of education, it may not be possible right now. Those struggling with finances or who have other responsibilities may need more time.
Earning an associate’s degree can open the door for you into the field of your dreams. You’ll also make contacts within the field.
Best of all, you’ll be earning money you can put toward a higher degree at a later date.
Training and Certification Information
Aim for at least two years of full clinical experience. That will leave you eligible for licensing.
You’ll need at least 255 hours of practicum approved by the CAADAC before you’re able to obtain your license. Before accruing any experience, you will need to pass a criminal background check.
You also have to obtain a national certification to work in the industry and be recognized as a substance abuse professional.
California has four main levels of certification. There are also two levels that are trainee level.
That level is not required for actual certification.
The four levels are CADCA (Certified Alcohol Drug Counselor Associate, CADC-I (Certified Alcohol Drug Counselor I), CADC-II (Certified Alcohol Drug Counselor II), and the LAADC (Licensed Advanced Alcohol Drug Counselor).
In the first three levels, you’ll be required to complete an education, practicum, and supervised experience.
The entry-level CADCA does not require supervised experience as this is an intro level.
The CADC-I requires 4,000 hours of supervised work experience providing counseling to clients.
CADC-II level requires 6,000 hours of supervised work experience providing counseling to clients.
The LAADC is a non-governmental licensed and is not required to practice counseling in California. It also requires a Master’s Degree in Behavioral Science and supervised experience.
However, if you have an AA degree and are looking to obtain your LAADC, your supervised work experience will be reduced from 10,000 hours to 6,000 hours.
Once all this is completed, you’ll be required to take the ICRC written examination. Upon passing, you’re eligible to apply for the Commission for certification.
Take the Next Steps
Now, more than ever, there is a great need for more people who can help those struggling with drug and alcohol addiction.
It’s a rewarding career that makes a difference in people’s lives. If you’ve been thinking about pursuing it as your life’s work, don’t wait.
Our program can help you earn your degree in less time. We even have business courses if you decide to go into private practice.
We also provide financial assistance to those who qualify.
Click here to request more information about our programs.