Online Certificate Programs in Addictions Counseling

Addictions are identified as compulsive behaviors that limit the sufferers' ability to enjoy life and fulfill their everyday responsibilities. In the psychology field, it is this damaging effect of addictions that takes center focus. Addicts may sacrifice family, health, work, and finances, unaware of the destructive nature of their compulsion.

For this reason, students learn to identify substance abuse, perform substance abuse and crisis intervention, and evaluate treatment. By earning addictions counseling certificates, professionals learn how to work with addictions, often in terms of substance abuse.

Certificates in addictions counseling like the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC) Master Addiction Counselor (MAC), prepare professionals to work closely with addicts and their families. When a candidate begins studying for the MAC exam, they must have experience already in supporting sufferers in a therapeutic setting.

Post Master's Certificate in Addictions Counseling

Graduates from addictions counseling master’s programs, or already licensed counselors, will pursue post master’s certificates for any number of personal and professional reasons. LPCs (licensed professional counselors), LSWs (licensed social workers), LMHCs (licensed mental health counselors), and other state licensed counselors already working within the discipline often seek certification as a means of augmenting their knowledge and experience. Anyone without state licensure who has a master’s degrees in related fields can enroll in addictions counseling certificate programs to complete the prerequisites for LPC or LSW credentials, and often to pass the MAC exam.

Online addictions counseling programs such as the post master’s program at Villanova University are appropriate for students who seek additional classroom education before they take their licensing exam. Participating students must complete the following 3-credit courses: substance abuse counseling; prevention theory and practice; advanced assessment and treatment of substance abuse; and adolescent substance abuse treatment. Completion of these courses prepares students to take the MAC exam.

The following enrollment requirements are specific to the NAADAC MAC certification:

  • Five hundred hours of education and training, including a master’s degree in counseling or related human services field
  • Current state license or certification in counseling
  • Three years of supervised experience
  • Ethics and HIV/AIDS training in past five years
  • Take and pass the MAC exam

Interested parties will discover that offline and online addictions counseling certificates may be earned through personal study and preparation or by enrollment in a program. Given the two paths, requirements for the certificate vary. In either case, completion of a master’s degree in psychology or a related field is necessary.

What's Next for Addictions Counseling Certificate Holders?

Obtaining this certificate can help those students who have not yet passed the licensing exam for their state to do so and, thereby, secure a job as an LPC or LSW with a specially in substance abuse. The same holds true for licensed counselors. Passing the MAC allows LPCs and LSWs to specialize in substance abuse.

The certification also looks great on a resume, and can help licensed counselors advance to higher-paying jobs like clinical supervisor, senior counselor and other senior-level positions. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) reports that the median wage for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors in 2014 was over $39,000.

Ambitious students can continue their education by seeking a doctorate in psychology or addiction psychology. Some online programs offer non-clinical specializations in this field. Doctoral students may decide to focus on rehabilitation, research, or clinical counseling. The degree opens many doors for students who seek work as addictions counseling professors, addictions specialists or substance abuse center administrators.