What Is a BS in Counseling – Addiction and Chemical Dependency?

Counselor sitting across from patient

Although treating addiction is sometimes seen as an exclusive focus on substances and addictive behaviors, effective counseling focuses on the whole person. An effective counseling program will equip a future counselor in an array of core counseling classes to help the individual in all areas. The BS in Counseling program with an emphasis in addiction is beneficial for those seeking to enter into addiction counseling—but can also be helpful for those seeking to enter into clinical practice in other areas due to the high volume of core counseling courses.

Programs need to have classes in core areas such as:

  • Co-occurring disorders: SAMHSA says that an estimated 8.9 million Americans are living with co-occurring disorders. However, they also report that fewer than 7.5 percent of these people get in a treatment program that can effectively address both disorders. 1
  • Group counseling: Group counseling can be the best resource for coping with a particular obstacle or personal concern, as it allows individuals to connect with others who have had like experiences.
  • Domestic violence and child abuse: Domestic violence and child abuse are plaguing our nation. It is estimated that more than ten million people experience domestic violence in the U.S. each year. 2

Training for future counselors in these areas are a must. Programs need to offer not just the knowledge, but how to train future counselors in applied skills in these areas.

Is a BS Counseling Right for You?

Are you a good listener? Are you compassionate, empathetic and feel called to help others through difficult and emotional times in their lives? Do you want to learn how to apply counseling skills that help others achieve sobriety and mental wellness in their lives? A career path in counseling might be a good choice for you.

What You Will Learn in a BS Counseling – Addiction Program

Those enrolled in a BS Counseling – Addiction program will learn applied skills in counseling individuals, families and counseling groups. Additionally, they will learn screening, assessment, understanding diagnosis and effective treatment planning. Students will learn the skills in treating the individual’s mental health and those that also have addictive disorders and how to help the families that love them.

Learn basic skills in how to be part of a clinical team treating special populations such as:

  • Children and adolescents
  • Domestic violence
  • Trauma and addictions

This degree program has an emphasis in substance abuse with the focus on learning how to be an effective counselor. It is a solid steppingstone to a graduate degree in professional counseling. BS in Counseling programs may lead to licensure at the paraprofessional/technician level in addiction. Some universities may offer or require practicum classes.

Career Outcomes

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of behavioral disorder and substance abuse counselor jobs is growing at a much faster than average rate. 3 This is one of the highest projected growth increases of any occupation listed in the U.S. Occupations Outlook Handbook. If this is a career that interests you, then you can benefit from knowing that the job outlook is positive. The need is great, and the helpers are currently low.

Some graduates may find jobs as a:

  • Therapeutic Mentor/Bachelor Counselor
  • Mental Health Technicians
  • Substance Abuse Counselor
  • School Counselor

A BA in counseling is one of the best paths that lead into a graduate degree program in counseling that can lead to licensure.



2 "National Statistics". NCADV. National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Retrieved 5 October 2018



The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.