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Substance Abuse Counselor

A Guiding Light

The Associate of Applied Science Degree in Substance Abuse Counselor will provide a student with a thorough background and experience in counseling techniques specific for substance abuse services. The substance abuse education and the accumulation of supervised experience will prepare an individual for the Wisconsin Statutes & Rules Exam and the National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADC), NCAC I exam. Upon successful completion of the ICRC exam, the student may be eligible to gain employment in a variety substance abuse services.

  • Students who complete the Associate of Applied Science degree will be prepared to:
    • Interview prospective candidate to determine client’s eligibility for substance abuse services.
    • Follow the procedures for admission, signed documents and consents.
    • Describe the services, goals and rules of the program to the individual.
    • Administer & interpret comprehensive developmentally appropriate substance abuse assessments.
    • Formulate individualized treatment plans with the client based on their needs.
    • Implement evidence-based, culturally sensitive counseling techniques to engage client in their recovery.
    • Explain the rationale for coordinated services and resources to the client.
    • Recognize the elements of the client crisis events to enhance overall treatment.
    • Provide relevant information about available services and resources for the client.
    • Identify unmet needs of client and suggest a referral to appropriate resources.
    • Prepare reports and maintain records to facilitate client’s recovery.
    • Consult with other professionals to provide effective treatment services.
  • At the completion of the Associate of Applied Science degree, the state of Wisconsin will recognize 360 hours of substance abuse use disorder specialized education toward the state license of a Substance Abuse Counselor-In Training (SAC-IT).

The Wisconsin State Legislature requires a thorough background check
under the Caregiver Law § 48.685 and 50.065 Stats.
Students may not be able to work in this field with certain legal convictions.


An Associate's Degree for Substance Abuse Counseling requires a minimum of 71 credits, and is achievable in two years of full time studies.


Substance Abuse Counseling requires problem sensitivity, deductive and inductive reasoning, and a strong interest in social dynamics and relationships. [1]

Job Growth

Substance Abuse Counselors have much higher projected job growth than average, with an expected 41,000 job openings between now and 2030.[2]

Career Opportunities

In addition to the Bureau of Labor Statistic's Standard Occupational Classification, or "SOC" Code, the following are examples of job titles that degree-holding individuals have gone on to attain.

Bureau of labor statistics soc codes:
Addictions Counselor Case Manager
Preventions Specialist Clinical Counselor
Chemical Dependency Counselor Certified Alcohol & Drug Counselor (ADAC)

Tuition Facts

Program length:
71 Credits 
semester tuition (full-time):