According to the most recent data, more than 20 million Americans abuse legal and illicit substances each year, ranging from alcohol and Vicodin to heroin and methamphetamine. Substance abuse destroys individuals, families, and entire communities, and contributes to the deaths of more than 100,000 people in the United States annually. Sadly, only 1% of substance abusers obtain the treatment necessary to overcome their addictions.
Why a Master's Degree?
Most people who seek out a master’s in substance abuse counseling have some sort of relationship with an addict; as a large number of these students already work in the profession, they see their patients suffer from addiction, and seek the skills and education necessary to help them. Knowing that an online master’s degree in substance abuse counseling can be accomplished in about two years, they see the value in spending the time and resources to obtain it. With the master’s degree in hand, graduates may continue to work in their counseling positions in clinics, hospitals, and prisons, or practice independently. Substance abuse counseling is a vocation that fulfills the soul and provides sustainable employment.
Inside a Substance Abuse Counseling Master’s Degree Program
Students seeking an online master’s degree in substance abuse counseling can expect a rigorous program. Usually taking at least two years to complete, master’s students take a large number of courses on counseling and addiction. A variety of counseling classes tailored for particular populations, such as groups, families, and individuals, are typically required. Master’s students should also expect to take classes on assessment, diagnosis, and pharmacology, as well as co-occurring disorders and dual diagnoses.
Unlike other online substance abuse counseling degrees, students attaining a master’s degree should expect to spend a fair amount of time in the field. Requirements vary, but many programs mandate a full year of either a practicum or internship, or both. Depending on the program, some master’s of substance abuse counseling programs also require a passing grade on a comprehensive examination.
What’s Next for Substance Abuse Counseling Master’s Degree Holders?
People who graduate with a substance abuse counseling degree are qualified to practice independently, as well as to work in clinics, treatment centers, and hospitals. According to the BLS, those with master’s degrees are highly sought after by institutions to fill management positions that have a median annual salary of $62,740. This field is expected to grow by 10% through 2024, so employment should be relatively easy to find. Graduates are cautioned that in this professional field, continuing education and other course work may be required ongoing to obtain and keep necessary certifications and licenses.