CADC Degree Program Overviews
Certified alcohol and drug counselors (CADCs) work in hospitals, health clinics, private practices, and treatment centers treating individuals who have problems with drug and alcohol abuse and addiction. Those interested in a career as a CADC can pursue degrees in addiction or substance abuse counseling. Programs are commonly offered at the associate's and bachelor's degree levels.
Associate's Degrees in Alcohol and Drug Counseling
These two-year undergraduate degree programs, sometimes referred to as substance abuse or addiction counseling programs, are often offered through a school's human services department. They are typically designed to meet state licensing requirements for alcohol and drug counselors. A high school diploma or its equivalent is required for admission.
Students are required to complete 60-65 credit-hours of coursework between general education requirements as well as courses in alcohol and drug counseling. Most programs include an internship or fieldwork. Course topics might include:
- Theories of addiction
- Counseling strategies
- Family intervention
Licensing and Certification
State licensing and certification requirements for alcohol and drug counselors vary by state. They may be regulated through a state's Department of Health, Department of Licensing, or through special departments focusing on the regulation of substance abuse professionals. Some states have adopted the Association for Addiction Professionals certification (www.naadac.org). Basic certification requires three years of work experience, a minimum number of contact hours, and passing the certification exam.
Bachelor's Degrees in Alcohol and Drug Counseling
These four-year programs provide a solid educational foundation for those interested in a career treating and preventing alcoholism and substance abuse. Bachelor's degree programs at least a high school diploma or its equivalent for admission. In most states, those who earn a bachelor's degree in this field meet state licensing requirements.
Students complete approximately 122 credit hours of coursework in addiction studies and general education. Many schools provide students with opportunities for hands-on experience through internships or clinical experiences. Topics of study include:
- Chemical dependency
- Prevention strategies
- Ethical issues in counseling
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors, including CADCs, earned a median salary of $38,520 in May 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov). Most of these counselors were employed by outpatient care centers, substance abuse treatment facilities, and other family service organizations. The BLS expected employment to grow by 27% between 2010 and 2020, because more individuals choose to seek treatment and individuals facing drug charges are mandated to seek help as part of their parole or probation agreements with the court.
Certification and Continuing Education
The Association for Addiction Professionals offers certification for Substance Abuse Professionals and Adolescent Specialists as well as special focuses in spiritual care-giving and resolution in recovery. Annual conferences and additional continuing education opportunities are also available.
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