Colorado Online Masters in Substance Abuse Counseling Programs

Online masters in addiction counseling programs teach students to help individuals, families, and groups overcome substance abuse or dependence issues. The curriculum may explore the nature of chemical and psychological dependency. You may also practice best therapy techniques, and examine the impact addiction has on people, families, relationships and communities as a whole.

Some addiction studies online programs are designed to be entry level. These may help students new to the field prepare to qualify for certification or licensure as required by that state. Because these top programs are offered online, they may also accommodate an ongoing therapy practice, enabling professionals to access education from home or at the office on their own schedules.

What Is Addiction Counseling?

Addiction counseling—a broader category that includes substance abuse counseling—is a profession dedicated to helping people overcome addiction, and helping their families cope with the impacts of this struggle. Counselors rely on psychology expertise and therapy methods to encourage and support behavioral changes and reduce dependency. Entry level education and credential requirements may vary by state and practice type. i

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, some states have regulation that enables substance abuse counselors to practice with only a high school degree and some specialized training. However, many states require counselors to hold, at minimum, a master’s degree. i

What to Expect in Online Masters in Addiction Counseling Programs

Some students might choose to earn their masters degrees in addiction counseling online through counseling, psychology, or social work programs that offer a concentration in substance abuse. Other programs focus entirely on substance abuse etiology and treatment.

Despite being primarily online, some programs may still have require students to complete some elements in person, either on campus or in the field.

If you’re considering pursuing a masters degree in addiction counseling online, the following traits might describe you:

  • Strongly motivated to help others
  • Not judgmental
  • Thick-skinned
  • Hard worker
  • Empathic
  • Focused more on the emotional rewards of a job than the pay

Online Courses for Addiction Counseling

Some online masters in addiction counseling programs offer a broad, counseling-based curriculum with an option to focus on substance abuse issues. Others may be targeted specifically to working with individuals with substance abuse and dependence. Which type of program you choose could impact the way your curriculum is put together.

General counseling courses at these graduate programs might include:

  • Introduction to Counseling
  • Counseling and Psychology Theories
  • Counseling and Psychology Practice
  • Group Therapy
  • Family Therapy
  • Mental Health Policy
  • Diversity and counseling

Courses addressing substance abuse and addiction might include:

  • Human development and addiction
  • Substance abuse counseling
  • Addiction theory
  • Addiction and family therapy
  • Addiction and group therapy

Internship & Practicum Requirements

Addiction and substance abuse masters programs online or otherwise usually require students to complete a supervised internship or practicum. Internships and practicums are a way for students to apply theory and classroom learning to hands-on practice with the population with whom they anticipate working.

As interns, substance abuse masters students are typically supervised by a licensed counselor with significant work experience. Internships may be a great way for students to enhance their understanding of the practical application of their studies by learning the “tricks of the trade” from a person with many years of experience. Internships might also provide students with opportunities to network and make connections that might help them during the job search process, and help link them to other helping professionals that may be able to enhance their ability to serve their clients.

Admissions Requirements

Online masters in addiction counseling programs generally require applicants to submit a statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, and an application fee. Most, but not all, require standardized test scores. In addition, admissions departments like to see some experience in the helping fields, whether it’s paid work experience or volunteer work. Undergraduate courses in psychology and sociology can also help enhance a resume, as well as providing the applicant with a sense of whether this is the right fit!

There are accrediting bodies for each of the mental health disciplines – psychology, social work and counseling. Most states offer some form of licensure for each discipline, and if you plan to pursue your license, it’s important to attend a school that has been accredited.

Potential Career Opportunities for Substance Abuse Counselors i

Substance abuse counselors may do individual, group, or family counseling. They may work in a variety of settings, including:

  • Inpatient units
  • Detox units
  • Community health clinics
  • Non-profits
  • Private practice
  • Hospitals

Find Online Masters in Addiction Counseling Programs

Search for online drug addiction counseling masters programs right here! Review the sponsored program listings on this page, and click on the names of any that interest you. Then reach out to them for more information, and get ready to apply!


source: [i] bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/substance-abuse-behavioral-disorder-and-mental-health-counselors.htm