The Substance Abuse Counselor Training and Career Center


Welcome! You have arrived at the Substance Abuse Counselor Headquarters! Here you will find all the information you need for a career as a substance abuse counselor, including training, education requirements, qualifications needed for licensure and certification, and more! The Substance Abuse Counselor Headquarters will help you obtain the knowledge and skills needed to get where you want to be… fast!

Becoming a Certified Substance Abuse Counselor

Congratulations! If you’ve decided that becoming a certified substance abuse counselor is something you’d like to pursue, you’re in the right place. A certified substance abuse counselor is someone who is certified by the state in which they currently practice to help those suffering from addiction. Each state has its own requirements for becoming a certified substance abuse counselor, but most state generally require similar education and experience.

The first step you’ll need to take toward becoming a certified substance abuse counselor is to take an inventory of your personal qualities and see if you have what it takes internally to be a substance abuse counselor.  When becoming a certified substance abuse counselor, you’ll need to have empathy, compassion, warmth, a strong understanding of addiction, and a desire to help others.

becoming a certified substance abuse counselorIf you think you have what it takes and would like to continue towards your goal of becoming a certified substance abuse counselor, then you’ll next need to look into obtaining experience in the field if you haven’t already done so.

Becoming a certified substance abuse counselor will take a year of supervised experience working directly with clients suffering from substance abuse. Supervised experience is work or structured volunteering under the supervision of   someone is a master’s level therapist or licensed substance abuse counselor.

After you gain experience working in the field, the next step to becoming a certified substance abuse counselor is education.  Before you can be a certified substance abuse counselor, you must have approximately 155 hours of formal education in substance abuse.  This requires prospective certified substance abuse counselors to have classes on the 12 core functions of a substance abuse counselor, HIV/AIDS, relapse prevention and the trigger cycle.

Substance Abuse Counselor Certification

The initial process of becoming a certified substance abuse counselor requires:

155 formal classroom hours (15.5 quarter units or 10.33 semester units) in alcohol and/or other drug (AOD) studies from government approved or privately accredited college-level instituitions.

2,080 hours of work experience, including 160 hours of supervised AOD training

If you have the experience and the education, the final step you’ll take in becoming a certified substance abuse counselor is to take a test.  Generally, your state’s test will be about 100 questions and requires a 70% to pass.  You can find study materials through your state’s certification and licensure office or at the institute through which you are taking the exam toward becoming a certified substance abuse counselor.

While looking into becoming a certified substance abuse counselor, you will need to look over the code of ethics and make sure that these are rules you are willing to adhere to.  These ethics include statements on confidentiality, your intentions as a certified substance abuse counselor, knowing when to release a client, striving for improvement, and knowing your boundaries with a client.

Certified Substance Abuse Counselor

If you have already completed the steps of becoming a certified substance abuse counselor, you will need to maintain your certification by completing 40 hours of continuing education every two years.  Although becoming a certified substance abuse counselor requires a minimum amount education, keeping your certification requires:

TABLE 1: Becoming  a Certified Substance Abuse Counselor

Minimum of:Subject:
6 hoursUnderstanding Addiction
6 hoursTreatment Knowledge (3 hours  in Communicable Diseases)
6 hoursApplication to Practice (3 hours in Special Populations)
6 hoursProfessional Readiness
3 hoursEthics
3 hoursPrevention of Sexual Harassment
10 hoursAny other subject relating becoming a certified substance abuse counselor which may include the subjects listed above

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If becoming a certified substance abuse counselor does not sound like the path you want to take, check out how to become a licensed substance abuse counselor.

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