Alabama Substance Abuse Counselor Training

Substance abuse counselors play a pivotal role in improving the quality of life for those struggling with addictions with alcohol or drugs. The role of addiction specialist is not only to provide professional counseling, but to support and help those in need to maintain their lives in recovery.

They may provide a range of services, from outpatient treatment to prevention services, residential treatment to detoxification. In turn, substance abuse counselors may find employment across industries and organizations, including health care systems, judicial court systems, hospitals, private clinics, physician offices and more.

Depending on the state where they work, counselors may have a variety of job titles, including the following:

  • Drug addiction counselors
  • Drug treatment counselors
  • Rehabilitation counselors
  • Licensed chemical dependency counselors
  • Behavioral health counselors
  • Certified therapeutic counselors

Substance abuse counseling degree and educational programs

Degree programs are available at all educational levels for those interested in addiction and substance abuse counseling. In Alabama, an advanced degree is not required for employment and several certification tracks only require an associate or bachelor's for licensing.

Specific curriculum varies by program, but students at the associate or bachelor's degree may encounter studies in the following areas:

  • Basic pharmacology
  • Principles of sociology
  • Individual counseling
  • Family counseling
  • Physiology of substance abuse
  • Drugs and behavior

Master's degrees are advanced programs of study and may take more than 60 credits to complete. Students should expect comprehensive, detailed research into the field, such as psychiatric rehabilitation, multicultural counseling, small group counseling and more.

Licensing and certification requirements for Alabama substance abuse counselors

Earning a certification demonstrates not only an individual's commitment to the profession, but also at once establishes credibility and professional achievement. In Alabama, certification is handled by the Alabama Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association (AADAA), which is located in Decatur, Alabama.

Certification is "competency-based," meaning prospective counselors must meet both educational and experience requirements in order to gain certification to practice in the state. The AADAA provides three counselor certification paths, including the including the following:

  • Associate Addiction Professional (AAP)
  • Certified Adolescent Alcohol & Drug Abuse Professional
  • Alcohol Drug Counselor, IC&RC Level Certification

The AADAA also has seven certification tracks that can be completed after completing counselor requirements:

  • Certified Co-Occurring Disorders Professional Diplomat (CCDP-D)
  • Certified Co-Occurring Disorders Professional (CCDP)
  • Certified Criminal Justice Specialist (CCJAS)
  • Certified Criminal Justice Addictions Specialist (CCJP)
  • Certified Clinical Supervisor (CCS)
  • Associate Preventions Specialist (APS)
  • Certified Prevention Specialist (CPS)
  • Certified Prevention Manager (CPM)

Each certification has its own set of requirements for education, clinical hours, training, examinations, fees and forms. For example, the CCDP-D certification requires a master's degree, while the CCDP requires a bachelor's degree.

Prospective applicants should review the requirements of each certification prior to applying for certification at AADAA.us.

After earning their certification in Alabama, substance abuse counselors may choose to pursue voluntary certifications from the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium/Alcohol and Other Drug or NAADAC, Association for Addiction Professionals.

International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium/Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse (ICRC). A nonprofit organization that offers seven certifications (internationalcredentialing.org):

  • Peer Recovery (PR)
  • Clinical Supervisor (CS)
  • Prevention Specialist (PS)
  • Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ADC)
  • Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (AADC)
  • Criminal Justice Addictions Professional (CCJP)
  • Co-Occurring Disorders Professional (CCDP/D)

NAADAC, Association for Addiction Professionals. The NAADAC has more than 85,000 members, including educators and substance abuse counselors, and provides continuing education and professional certificate programs, including:

  • Recovery to Practice
  • Conflict Resolution in Recovery
  • Spiritual Caregiving to Help Addicted Persons and Families

Substance abuse professionals may also pursue the following voluntary certifications from the NAADAC (naadac.org):

  • National Certified Addiction Counselor I (NCAC-I)
  • National Certified Addiction Counselor II (NCAC-II)
  • Master Addiction Counselor (MAC)
  • Nicotine Dependence Specialist (NDS)
  • Nationally Certified Adolescent Addictions Counselor (NCAAC)
  • Nationally Endorsed Student Assistance Professional (NESAP)
  • Clinical Supervision Endorsement
  • Co-Occurring Disorders Proficiency Certificate (CDPC)
  • Peer Recovery Support Specialist (NCPRSS)

Career overview for substance abuse specialists in Alabama

The national average salary for substance abuse and behavioral counselors in 2013 was just more than $41,000 in 2013, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov). Although -- on average -- counselors earned less than the national average in 2013 ($38,540), counselors practicing in different areas of the state outpaced both the state and national earning averages.


2013 Average Salary

Montgomery, AL


Birmingham-Hoover, AL


Mobile, AL


Huntsville, AL


Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Metropolitan Occupational and Wage Estimates, 2013

On the employment front, job projections are strong -- both nationally and in the state of Alabama. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects occupational opportunities for substance abuse counselors should increase by 31 percent nationally between 2012 and 2022. Alabama is just a shade behind the national rate -- 29 percent growth between 2012 and 2022, according to data from Projections Central.


ATTC, Addiction Technology Transfer Center Network, http://www.attcnetwork.org/home/

Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2013 National Occupational and Wage Estimates, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes211011.htm

Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2013 State Occupational and Wage Estimates, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_al.htm

Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/substance-abuse-and-behavioral-disorder-counselors.htm

East Carolina University, http://catalog.ecu.edu/preview_program.php?catoid=6&poid=1240&returnto=380

NAADAC, Application Packet, http://www.naadac.org/assets/1959/alabama_cert_application_packet.pdf

NAADAC, Association for Addiction Professionals, http://www.naadac.org/

National University, http://www.nu.edu/OurPrograms/CollegeOfLettersAndSciences/Psychology/Programs/AssociateofScienceinAlcoholandDrugAbuseCounseling.html

Projections Central, Long-Term Occupational Projections, http://projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm

University of Cincinnati, http://cech.uc.edu/programs/substance_abuse_counseling/programs.html?cid=18BS-SACN

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