Addiction and substance abuse are incredibly harmful, not only to the person with an addiction, but also to friends and family.
Characterized by compulsive behaviors and an unhealthy, persistent relationship between a person and an object or activity, addiction is a chronic disease that can affect and wreak havoc on anyone of any age, gender identity, or background.
People with substance use disorders require dedicated care and support as they embark on their recovery. Often, they are matched with certified addiction counselors to obtain specialized attention, counseling, and therapy.
Certified addiction counselors play an important role in helping combat the drug abuse and overdose epidemic in our nation today. If you are seeking an impactful and rewarding career, addiction counseling is an incredible path to pursue. However, there are steps you must take before you can practice in the field. This includes certification.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most states require addiction counselors to earn licensure or certification, particularly those in private practice. An addiction counselor certification can be obtained through a dedicated educational program and after gaining experience in the field.
In this guide, we’ll explore the role of an addiction counselor, the steps and importance of addiction counselor certification, and how to start a career as a certified addiction counselor.
What is an Addiction Counselor?
Addiction counselors, also referred to as substance abuse counselors, are compassionate professionals who dedicate their lives to helping people who struggle with addictive behaviors.
They work with individuals, couples, families, and others affected by addiction and provide education, support, and critical coping skills to help them lead happier, healthier, and longer lives. They also utilize therapeutic, mental, and behavioral techniques and services to help their clients establish pathways to recovery.
These techniques, their training, and their certification enable addiction counselors to create safe, supportive environments where people battling addictions can get to the root of their problems, develop recovery solutions, and work to improve their mental health and problem behaviors.
Addiction counselors work in a variety of settings, including:
- Mental health treatment centers
- Rehabilitation centers
- Family and Social Services offices
- In and out-patient centers
What is Addiction Counselor Certification?
While the education and training requirements will vary, depending on the state, becoming a certified addiction counselor requires a college degree, relevant coursework, and licensure or certification. Students should do their research to know what will be expected of them in the state they wish to practice in.
In addition to their Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in Psychology, Social Work, or Public Health and their official licensure, addiction counselors can further their education, training, and skills through specific coursework in addiction counseling, such as a Certified Addiction Counselor (CAC) certificate program.
The CAC certificate can be an additional asset to a college degree or earned without prior college education. Still, non-degree-holding candidates will typically need to complete more hours of substance abuse counseling work experience than degree-holding candidates.
At Goodwin University, the required work experience needed for our program is broken down as follows:
- For non-degree-holding students, six thousand hours (approximately three years working full-time) of substance abuse counseling work experience.
- Five thousand hours of substance abuse counseling work experience for associate degree-holding students.
- Four thousand hours of substance abuse counseling work experience for bachelor’s degree-holding students.
- Three thousand hours of substance abuse counseling work experience for master’s degree-holding students.
How to Earn a Certified Addiction Counselor Certification
Certified Addiction Counselor (CAC) programs are designed to enable candidates to earn their addiction counselor certification. Candidates are taught by an expert faculty of clinical mental health counselors, addiction professionals, social workers, and psychologists to learn the causes and treatment of substance abuse disorders and how these disorders affect people and communities alike.
In addition to education and training requirements, addiction counselors must meet specific guidelines and steps to obtain their Certified Addiction Counselor (CAC) certification. For example, in the state of Connecticut, the Connecticut Certification Board (CCB) requires candidates to complete:
- Three hundred hours of supervised, practical training in alcohol and drug counseling.
- Three years of supervised, paid work experience (or an unpaid internship) working directly with alcohol and drug-dependent clients.
- Three hundred and sixty hours of approved education, with at least two hundred and forty hours related to the knowledge and skills base associated with addiction counseling.
- The CCB-administered exam which provides them with their state certification.
- Proof of successful completion for all of the above, including a completed application online to the Connecticut Department of Public Health.
Certified Addiction Counselor (CAC) certification programs, like ours at Goodwin University, are specifically designed so that students meet the above requirements and can earn their addiction counselor certification.
Once they earn this certification, graduates are equipped and prepared to help people in their communities who suffer from substance abuse problems and other addictive behaviors by providing individual and group support services, crisis interventions, and even community outreach and education initiatives.
Launch Your Career as a Certified Addiction Counselor
If you are passionate about helping others to overcome, treat, and manage their addiction, it’s time to start your career as a certified addiction counselor through a Certified Addiction Counselor (CAC) program.
Through in-field and classroom training and experience in mental health, psychology, and social work, graduates make an important—and potentially life-saving—impact on those who are struggling with addiction and the loved ones who care about them.
Plus, choosing a career-focused, affordable, and primarily online (internships are performed in-person) Certified Addiction Counselor (CAC) program will give you valuable, practical, and hands-on experience in the field on your needs and schedule. Our program can be completed in as few as three semesters full-time if you already have a college degree.
Lastly, our comprehensive support services are committed to supporting our students personally and professionally to get through college, earn a certification, and enter a great career.
Contact us for more information about our Certified Addiction Counselor Certificate program, and start your future today!