Post-MS in Addiction Counseling Certificate Program

Post-Master of Science in Counseling: Addiction Counseling Certificate

Offered By: College of Humanities and Social Sciences


Estimated new job openings for substance abuse, behavioral disorder and mental health counselors each year from 2020 to 2030, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics1

Earn Your Post-MS Addiction Counselor Certificate and Begin Impacting the Lives of Others

In 2020, 91,799 people in the U.S. died from drug-involved overdose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with nearly 75% of these deaths involving an opioid.2

If you feel called to work toward saving lives and strengthening communities, consider earning your addiction counseling certificate at Grand Canyon University (GCU). The Post-Master of Science in Counseling: Addiction Counseling Certificate program is designed for working professionals who hold a master’s or doctoral degree in counseling, behavioral health, social work, nursing or a related field.

Offered by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, this addiction counseling certificate examines the assessment, treatment and aftercare of substance abuse and addictive disorders. It explores co-occurring disorders and best practices in working with chemically dependent adolescents. There is a focus on Christian principles and biblical truths. Aspiring counselors at GCU are encouraged to explore addictions in light of the Christian worldview, and to look for appropriate ways of integrating faith into their practice.

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Earn your Post-MS certificate in addiction counseling and emerge ready to tackle problems that adversely affect individuals, families and society as a whole. Refine your communication skills and leadership style as you study matters of professional ethics in the counseling field. A total of 15 credits are required for completion of the substance abuse counselor certificate online. The courses are eight weeks in length and can be completed 100% online so you can pursue your advanced education with added flexibility.

What You Will Study in GCU’s Alcohol and Drug Counseling Certificate Program

In this addiction counselor certificate program, you will explore opportunities to specialize in counseling, best practices in academic research, writing and the use of community resources. In courses such as Family Issues and Addictive Disorders, Co-Occurring Disorders and Counseling Chemically Dependent Adolescents, you will study the following topic areas:

  • Critical issues and special treatment needs in families with addictive disorders, including a look at intergenerational patterns and solution-focused techniques
  • Signs, symptoms and patterns of adolescent substance abuse, screening methods and assessment tools
  • Identifying, evaluating and treating co-occurring disorders, including bipolar, depressive, trauma, personality and anxiety disorders
  • Stages, processes and effects of substance abuse disorders, and the professional’s role in prevention, intervention and aftercare, with a focus on recovery and relapse prevention

Careers for Certificate in Addiction Counseling Program Graduates

Substance use and addictive disorders are complex problems that require the attention of specially trained counselors. By earning your certificate in addiction counseling, you will be prepared to help lead individuals out of the depths of addiction, as well as to work with groups and families affected by addiction. A Post-Master of Science in Counseling: Addiction Counseling Certificate may prepare you to pursue positions in any of the following settings:

  • Inpatient and outpatient treatment programs
  • Hospitals and private practice clinics
  • Social service agencies
  • Community-based organizations
  • Schools and universities

Substance abuse counselors are typically responsible for evaluating clients, identifying underlying issues, creating goals and treatment plans, leading group therapy sessions and working with clients in one-on-one sessions. They may also teach clients coping techniques, help them find jobs to get their lives back on track and provide updates to court-mandated programs.

Addiction Counseling Certificate Program FAQs

If you are interested in pursuing a certificate in addiction counseling, review our answers to these commonly asked questions.

At GCU, the addiction counselor certificate program requires 15 credits to completion. There are five courses in the program that are all eight weeks in length. As with all GCU certificate programs, the online addiction counseling certificate has fewer classes and is designed to be completed in less time than a full degree program.

Pursuing an alcohol and drug counseling certificate allows you to study the significant impact of alcohol and drug abuse on individuals, families and communities. Earning a substance abuse counselor certificate online is worth it if you want to help individuals affected by addiction as well as those around them, including spouses, children, coworkers, neighbors and community members.

1 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 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as well. Accordingly, data shown is based on September 2021, which can be found here: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors, retrieved on Feb. 1, 2022.

2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Drug Overdose Deaths Remain High, in January 2023

Total Credits: 15
Online: 8 weeks
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Up to 12 credits or 1/3 of the total program requirements in transfer (whichever is less)
Online: $590 per credit
[Tuition, Fees and Financial Aid]

Cost of Attendance

Course List

15 credits
Degree Requirements:
15 credits

Core Courses

Course Description

This survey course provides an introduction to the graduate certificate programs in childhood and adolescence disorders, marriage and family therapy, substance use disorders and addiction, and trauma. Students are introduced to the University policies and procedures, the learning management system, the library, and proper APA formatting for academic writing. In addition, students are introduced to the current DSM and how the information relates to the field of counseling. Students also learn about researching and utilizing community resources, and becoming certified in specializations.

Course Description

This course provides a broad understanding of the stages, processes, and effects of substance use disorders, social and psychological dynamics of substance use disorders, and the professional's role in prevention, intervention, and aftercare, including recovery and relapse prevention. This course explores theories and models of treatment of substance use disorders, drug classification, and assessment. It also continues building foundational knowledge, utilization of professional resources, and exploration of standards to help students prepare for licensure/certification within the counseling industry.

Course Description

This course introduces students to co-occurring disorders. Students examine screening and assessment tools to reveal and evaluate the presence and severity of co-occurring disorders. This course also explores the treatment needs of persons with co-occurring disorders. Strategies for risk management associated with treating individuals with co-occurring disorders are presented.

Course Description

This course examines the impact of substance use disorders in family systems. Various treatment interventions are discussed. The treatment roles and responsibilities of addicted individuals and their families are also examined.

Course Description

This course provides an introduction to adolescent substance use disorders prevention and treatment techniques and interventions. Signs, symptoms, and patterns of adolescent substance use are examined. Students also explore adolescent screening methods and assessment tools.


GCU Online Student

Pursue a next-generation education with an online degree from Grand Canyon University. Earn your degree with convenience and flexibility with online courses that let you study anytime, anywhere.

* 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.