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Distance Education Courses in Substance Abuse

written by: R. Elizabeth C. Kitchen•edited by: Donna Cosmato•updated: 6/30/2010

Are you interested in becoming a substance abuse counselor? If so, read on to learn more about this career and what is necessary to get started.

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    Drug and alcohol counselors work with people who have a problem with substance abuse, and drug and alcohol addictions. A substance abuse training program via distance education can help those hoping to break into this field. Obtaining such an education can either help aspiring substance abuse counselors begin their career, or it can help those in mental health fields obtain the certification necessary to expand the scope of the counseling they provide.

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    Required Courses

    All programs will differ slightly in the courses they require. Those pursuing a degree will have to take all prerequisite courses in addition to their core substance abuse counseling courses.

    Counseling preparation topics can include:

    • Foundations of human behavior
    • General social issues
    • Psychological and social wellness
    • Recognizing complexity and ambiguity
    • Process of socialization
    • Social issues in the workplace
    • Counseling tasks and competencies

    Introduction to behavioral pharmacology topics can include:

    • Basic pharmacology
    • Conditioning and tolerance of drug effects
    • Dependence and addiction
    • Alcohol and its effects
    • Behavioral analysis of drug effects
    • The nervous system
    • Self-administration of drugs
    • Tranquilizers and sedative hypnotics

    Drugs and behavior topics can include:

    • Inhaled substances
    • Caffeine and methylxanthines
    • Opiates
    • Antidepressants and mood stabilizers
    • Hallucinogens
    • Tobacco and nicotine
    • Psychomotor stimulants
    • Antipsychotic drugs
    • Cannabis

    Substance abuse counseling topics can include:

    • Introduction to substance abuse counseling
    • Etiological theories of substance abuse
    • Assessment and diagnosis
    • Major substances of abuse and the body
    • Theories of addiction
    • Treatment setting and planning

    Additional topics that may be covered can include:

    • Group, family, and individual treatment
    • Characteristics of selected populations and treatment issues
    • Prevention
    • Relapse prevention strategies
    • Working with diverse cultures
    • Legal and ethical issues in substance abuse counseling
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    Average Completion Time

    substance abuse training program distance education clock How long it takes to complete a substance abuse training program distance education ultimately depends on the level of education and the student's previous level of education. A diploma or certificate take about a year, as Associate's degree takes about two years, a Bachelor's degree takes about four years, and a Master's degree program or higher takes about three years.

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    Top Online Schools

    Stratford Career Institute offers a diploma in drug and alcohol counseling. This distance learning school is a member of Canadian Association of Distance Education, United States Distance Learning Association, and International Council for Distance Education. This program will cost a total of $889.00 and students can choose to pay in full when enrolling or they can make monthly payments for 15 months.

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    Possible Careers

    Those who complete a program in substance abuse counseling can work in hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, community centers, clinics, or schools. They can provide counseling, help to create substance abuse lesson plans, or write in this field. The more education a person has, the better the job opportunities will be.

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    Career Outlook

    Those who are certified in this field will have the best chance at obtaining one of the available career opportunities. The average annual salary for a substance abuse counselor is $27,126.00 to $38,557.00. The average annual salary for a chemical dependency counselor is $27,873.00 to $39,104.00. The average annual salary of an addiction counselor is $27,505.00 to $38,207.00. This career path is said to be growing faster than the average, so those hoping to become substance abuse counselors will likely have a relatively easy time finding employment.

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    Why is it Better to Obtain this Degree Online?

    Obtaining an education in substance abuse counseling, allows students to maintain their current lifestyle without having to make too many sacrifices. They will be able to maintain their current career, family, and social obligations. They will be able to complete their school work around their current schedule.

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    PayScale. (2010). Salary Snapshot for Certified Addiction Drug and Alcohol Counselor Jobs. Retrieved on June 28, 2010 from PayScale:

    DegreeDirectory. (2010). What Does a Drug and Alcohol Counselor Do? Retrieved on June 28, 2010 from DegreeDirectory:

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    Image Credits

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