What Is a Substance Abuse and Addiction Counseling Degree?
Addiction is a disorder that tears apart families, ruins lives and adversely affects whole communities. As an aspiring substance abuse counselor, you can make a difference. Enroll in Grand Canyon University’s Bachelor of Science in Counseling with an Emphasis in Addiction, Chemical Dependency and Substance Abuse. Offered by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, this addiction counseling degree prepares students to serve individuals, families and communities with competence and compassion.
Students studying to become substance abuse counselors will learn the background factors of addiction and substance abuse. Applying a strength-based perspective will help students approach the whole person and family. Physical, emotional and physical aspects of addiction are primary strengths and avenues to healing for the individual and family. Learn to apply the Christian worldview and key concepts in spirituality to understanding and treating addiction.
What You’ll Learn With a BS in Addiction Counseling
The bachelor's degree in substance abuse and addiction counseling at GCU is an accredited program that provides students with a firm academic foundation in the counseling field. The degree requires a total of 120 credits for completion. Online classes are available to meet the needs of a diverse student body.
Students benefit from learning a blend of theoretical knowledge and applied skills, including hands-on learning experiences. Some of the courses included with this type of substance abuse counseling degree include the following:
- Foundations of Addiction and Substance Use
- Psychopharmacology in Treatment of Addiction and Substance Use Disorders
- Multicultural Counseling in a Diverse Society
- Relapse Prevention in the Treatment of Addiction and Substance Use Disorder
- Trauma, Addiction and Substance Use Disorders
Students acquire the necessary skills in screening, intake, assessment, treatment planning and case management. They explore special issues in substance abuse counseling, including considerations when working with children and adolescents, encouraging family involvement in the treatment process and working with clients with co-occurring disorders like anxiety.
The role of spirituality in substance abuse counseling is emphasized. Additionally, students acquire foundational knowledge in matters pertaining to legal standards, professional guidelines and ethical issues.
Careers With A Substance Abuse and Addiction Counseling Degree
Earning your bachelor's in addiction counseling degree is the first step toward pursuing a meaningful career in substance abuse counseling. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, substance abuse is on an alarming upward trend in the United States, especially among younger children. In 2017, 7% of eighth-graders had used an illicit drug within the past month. In 2020, an estimated 8.7% of eighth-graders had used an illicit drug within the past month.1 The upward trend in substance abuse in the U.S. correlates to an increased demand for substance abuse counselors to help those in need.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook estimates job growth for substance abuse, behavioral disorder and mental health counselors to increase by approximately 25% from 2019 to 2029, much faster than average, accounting for the addition of an estimated 79,000 jobs in the field.2
Substance abuse counselors can work in a variety of settings, including:
- Private practices
- Mental health clinics
- Rehabilitation facilities
Some jobs may require professional licensure or certification. The bachelor's degree in substance abuse and addiction counseling at GCU may qualify you to become eligible to pursue professional credentials, such as the Licensed Substance Abuse Technician (LSAT). It may also provide a foundation for enrollment in a graduate degree program in substance abuse counseling. This graduate program can also lead to a pathway to licensure.
Frequently Asked Questions About Addiction Counseling
1 Retrieved from National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Monitoring the Future Study: Trends in Prevalence of Various Drugs” in July 2021
2 COVID-19 has adversely affected the global economy and data from 2020 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as well. Accordingly, data shown is based on 2019, which can be found here: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors.
3 The earnings referenced were reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (“BLS”), Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder and Mental Health Counselors as of May 2020. Due to COVID-19, data from 2020 may be atypical compared to prior years. The pandemic may also impact the predicted future workforce outcomes indicated by the BLS. BLS calculates the median using salaries of workers from across the country with varying levels of education and experience and does not reflect the earnings of GCU graduates as Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder and Mental Health Counselors. It does not reflect earnings of workers in one city or region of the country. It also does not reflect a typical entry-level salary. Median income is the statistical midpoint for the range of salaries in a specific occupation. It represents what you would earn if you were paid more money than half the workers in an occupation, and less than half the workers in an occupation. It may give you a basis to estimate what you might earn at some point if you enter this career. You may also wish to compare median salaries if you are considering more than one career path.
General Education Requirements
General Education coursework prepares Grand Canyon University graduates to think critically, communicate clearly, live responsibly in a diverse world, and thoughtfully integrate their faith and ethical convictions into all dimensions of life. These competencies, essential to an effective and satisfying life, are outlined in the General Education Learner Outcomes. General Education courses embody the breadth of human understanding and creativity contained in the liberal arts and sciences tradition. Students take an array of foundational knowledge courses that promote expanded knowledge, insight, and the outcomes identified in the University's General Education Competencies. The knowledge and skills students acquire through these courses serve as a foundation for successful careers and lifelong journeys of growing understanding and wisdom.
Upon completion of the Grand Canyon University's University Foundation experience, students will be able to demonstrate competency in the areas of academic skills and self-leadership. They will be able to articulate the range of resources available to assist them, explore career options related to their area of study, and have knowledge of Grand Canyon's community. Students will be able to demonstrate foundational academic success skills, explore GCU resources (CLA, Library, Career Center, ADA office, etc), articulate strategies of self-leadership and management and recognize opportunities to engage in the GCU community.
- UNV-112, Success in Science, Engineering and Technology & Lab: 4
- UNV-103, University Success: 4
- UNV-303, University Success: 4
- UNV-108, University Success in the College of Education: 4
Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to construct rhetorically effective communications appropriate to diverse audiences, purposes, and occasions (English composition, communication, critical reading, foreign language, sign language, etc.). Students are required to take 3 credits of English grammar or composition.
- UNV-104, 21st Century Skills: Communication and Information Literacy: 4
- ENG-105, English Composition I: 4
- ENG-106, English Composition II: 4
Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to express aspects of Christian heritage and worldview. Students are required to take CWV-101/CWV-301.
- CWV-101, Christian Worldview: 4
- CWV-301, Christian Worldview: 4
Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to use various analytic and problem-solving skills to examine, evaluate, and/or challenge ideas and arguments (mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics, geology, astronomy, physical geography, ecology, economics, theology, logic, philosophy, technology, statistics, accounting, etc.). Students are required to take 3 credits of intermediate algebra or higher.
- MAT-154, Applications of College Algebra: 4
- MAT-144, College Mathematics: 4
- PHI-105, 21st Century Skills: Critical Thinking and Problem Solving: 4
- BIO-220, Environmental Science: 4
Graduates of Grand Canyon University will be able to demonstrate awareness and appreciation of and empathy for differences in arts and culture, values, experiences, historical perspectives, and other aspects of life (psychology, sociology, government, Christian studies, Bible, geography, anthropology, economics, political science, child and family studies, law, ethics, cross-cultural studies, history, art, music, dance, theater, applied arts, literature, health, etc.). If the predefined course is a part of the major, students need to take an additional course.
- HIS-144, U.S. History Themes: 4
- PSY-102, General Psychology: 4
- SOC-100, Everyday Sociology: 4
* Please note that this list may contain programs and courses not presently offered, as availability may vary depending on class size, enrollment and other contributing factors. If you are interested in a program or course listed herein please first contact your University Counselor for the most current information regarding availability.
* Please refer to the Academic Catalog for more information. Programs or courses subject to change.