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Addiction Counseling


Addiction counseling programs prepare students to work as counselors with people who have alcohol, substance abuse, or gambling addictions.

Addiction counseling programs prepare students to help prevent substance abuse and work as counselors. Students learn to assess problems and set up treatment plans for people who have alcohol, substance abuse, or gambling addictions. They learn methods for early intervention and prevention.

Addiction counseling programs include topics such as:


Many community colleges offer associate degree or certificate programs in addiction counseling. Most of these programs are only open to people who already have a bachelor's or master's degree in a related field such as nursing, social work, or general counseling. An associate degree program usually takes two years to complete. A certificate program usually takes a year of full-time study.

A few colleges and universities offer bachelor's and master's degrees in addiction counseling. Several offer minors or concentrations in addiction counseling as part of a counseling, psychology, nursing, or social work program. A master’s degree typically requires two years of study beyond a bachelor’s degree. Very few schools offer doctoral (PhD) degree programs in addiction counseling.

See schools that offer this program.

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Program Admission

You can prepare for this program by taking courses in high school that prepare you for college. This typically includes four years of English, three years of math, three years of social studies, and two years of science. Some colleges also require two years of a second language.

Below is a list of high school courses that will help prepare you for this program of study:

Graduate Admissions

Admission to graduate programs is competitive. You need a bachelor's degree, good grades, and good test scores.

Additional requirements at some schools include:

Typical Course Work

Program Courses

This undergraduate program typically includes courses in the following subjects:

Graduate Program Courses

Graduate programs that lead to a master's or doctoral degree typically include:

In most addiction counseling programs, students are required to gain clinical experience. Typically this means that you work for a minimum number of hours with patients. You can work in a hospital, halfway house, substance abuse center, or social welfare agency. Students observe counseling sessions and perform duties such as meeting with patients and writing reports. Once they have observed a specific number of sessions, students can counsel patients themselves. Students are closely supervised by a professional addiction counselor.

Through internships and clinical experience, students learn to apply their course work to real-life situations. Clinical time also gives students valuable experience that they can use to apply for jobs after they finish their degree.

Things to Know

Most states require that you become licensed or certified. Usually you are required to have specific training in addiction counseling plus a bachelor's degree and supervised contact with patients. You must also pass a written exam.

Some addiction counseling programs require that you pass an exam and submit a videotape of yourself interviewing a mock patient before you can begin your clinical experience.

Most addiction counseling programs at the bachelor's and master's degree levels include in-depth training in psychology.


East Side Area

Wenatchee Valley College

Wenatchee Valley College (Omak Campus)

King-Snohomish Area

Antioch University

Bellevue College

City University of Seattle

Edmonds Community College

Highline College

Seattle Central College

Kitsap Area

Olympic College

Spokane Area

Eastern Washington University

Spokane Falls Community College

Tacoma Area

Clover Park Technical College

Tacoma Community College

Vancouver Area

Clark College

West Side Area

Centralia College

Grays Harbor College

Lower Columbia College

Northwest Indian College

Peninsula College

Skagit Valley College

Whatcom Community College

Yakima Area

Yakima Valley College