How to Become an Addiction Counselor in Connecticut

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What is Addiction Counseling?


Are you considering enrolling in an addiction counseling degree in Connecticut? Individuals who are interested in helping people who suffer from drug and/or alcohol dependencies will find these programs helpful. Common benefits associated with a career in this field include sustained job security and opportunities to make a meaningful impact in the lives of others.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors is expected to increase by 25% from 2019 to 2029. This is significantly faster than the average for all occupations and will add approximately 79,200 new jobs to the market nationwide. Projected growth is primarily due to an increase in people seeking addiction and mental health counseling services. Demand for qualified professionals will also rise in conjunction with states sentencing drug offenders to treatment rather than jail time.

The educational services, healthcare, and social assistance industry is the fifth largest in Connecticut. It accounts for $26.6 billion in revenue in the state each year. Data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that employment for substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors is fair. This sector accounted for 4,110 jobs in May 2020. The annual mean wage for local professionals in this field was $56,060, which is higher than the national median wage of $41,950 as reported for all occupations.

A demand for qualified addiction counselors is definitely present in Connecticut. To account for this, the state has numerous academic programs available to those interested in pursuing this career. All substance abuse counselors must be certified and/or licensed. While colleges and universities throughout the nation offer accredited academic programs, those in Connecticut will be most familiar with state credentialing requirements. Local institutions also tend to offer the most geographically relevant coursework.


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Addiction Counseling Education in Connecticut


Addiction counselors strive to help people who suffer from alcoholism and drug addiction. They often serve as advocates, helping their patients manage the physical and psychological difficulties that often accompany addictions. While these professionals can evaluate the mental and physical health of their clients, they cannot prescribe medications of any kind. They may work with patients from a wide variety of demographics including teenagers, adults, veterans, and people with disabilities. Some choose to specialize in the treatment of a specific population.

Every job and its specific requirements differ, but some of the most common responsibilities include evaluating clients and assessing readiness for treatment, developing and reviewing treatment plans and goals, and assisting in skill and behavior development. It’s also not uncommon for addiction counselors to meet and work with family members to provide addiction education and assistance developing coping strategies. Additionally, they frequently coordinate with other medical and mental health professionals when developing and managing patient treatment plans.

Most addiction counselors work in individual and family service centers, hospitals, or residential substance abuse facilities. While the work can be extremely rewarding, it is also often stressful and demanding. Large workloads may lead to working evenings, nights, and/or weekends.

The majority of addiction counselors have some form of advanced education. While it is possible to find employment in Connecticut without a counseling degree, highly educated job candidates have better prospects. With programs available at every academic level, students can choose programs that align best with their individual academic and professional goals.

Associate Degree in Addiction Counseling (AS)

Most addiction counselors choose to earn, at minimum, bachelor’s degrees, but an associate degree may lead to some entry-level employment opportunities. These programs are generally designed to introduce students to the fundamentals of patient treatment and consist of 60 credit hours of coursework. For full-time students, graduation requirements can generally be met within two years. Many colleges and universities do accept transfer credits from accredited institutions, however, which can shorten this timeframe.

Every curriculum is different, but required courses may include:

  • Theories of Counseling
  • Case Management
  • Family and Group Counseling
  • Multicultural Counseling
  • Psychology

Graduates can pursue work as human services assistants, halfway house administrative assistances, and adolescent counselors. With additional education, they can also apply for certification through the Connecticut Department of Public Health. Credits can be transferred to a bachelor’s degree program in addiction counseling.

Bachelor's Degree in Addiction Counseling (BS)

Most addiction counselors choose to pursue, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree. Students can choose from programs in psychology, sociology, clinical social work, and mental health counseling, most of which offer concentrations in substance abuse.

Bachelor’s degrees consist of 120 credit hours of coursework and take full-time students approximately four years to complete. Those attending classes part-time may need an additional two to four years to graduate.

Every college and university program is different, but required courses may include:

  • Group and Individual Counseling
  • Social Research Methods
  • Diagnosis of Chemical or Behavioral Dependency
  • Psychological Evaluations and Assessments
  • Pharmacology and Psychopharmacology

Graduates can choose to pursue entry-level employment opportunities, but this level of education alone does not meet licensure standards certification and/or licensure in Connecticut. Job availability may be limited, with positions often given to professionals with more education. Having a bachelor’s degree in counseling or a related field will, however, qualify graduates to apply for admittance into master’s degree programs.

Master's Degree in Addiction Counseling (MS or MC)

In Connecticut, licensed addiction and drug counselors must have a master’s degree from an accredited institution in social work, marriage and family therapy, counseling, psychology, or a related field. Completing this level of education and obtaining the appropriate credentials will give graduates the ability to provide additional services to clients. Earning a graduate degree in addiction counseling will also make candidates more competitive during the job hiring process.

Most master’s degrees consist of 60 credit hours of coursework and take full-time students approximately two years to complete. Programs are generally designed to teach students various counseling approaches and research methods, as well as to offer opportunities to participate in field work. Many also require a thesis or capstone project prior to graduation.

Every college and university is different, but required courses may include:

  • Testing and Assessment
  • Human Growth and Development
  • Addiction Prevention and Intervention
  • Social and Cultural Foundations of Counseling
  • Psychopathology and Personality Disorders
  • Building Your Ideal Private Practice

PhD Degree in Addiction Counseling (PhD)

A doctoral degree is not required to practice as an addiction counselor, but earning one can be beneficial. Ideal for licensed professionals, these degree programs qualify graduates for positions in leadership, substance abuse research, and/or educational positions at the postsecondary level.

Most doctoral degrees consist of between 90 and 120 credit hours and take full-time students five to seven years to complete. Programs are designed to provide a comprehensive assessment of the social and cultural causes behind addiction.

Every institution is different and curriculum is often based on student interest, but required courses may include:

  • Epidemiology of Drug and Substance Abuse
  • History of Addiction and Human Behavior
  • Prevention of Chemical Abuse in Childhood
  • Group Psychotherapy Techniques and Treatment Methods

Become a Substance Abuse Counselor in Connecticut


All 50 states and the District of Columbia require chemical dependency counselors in private practice to be licensed. The first step in becoming an addiction counselor in Connecticut is determining the type of professional you intend to be. The state offers two options: Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC) and Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC). Identifying your ultimate career goals will dictate the amount and type of education required. Both options are overseen by the state’s Department of Public Health.

CADC is the primary credentialing level and candidates are not required to have a college degree. Those seeking certification must, however, have 360 hours of relevant education, including at least 240 hours that specifically focus on alcohol and drug abuse. Coursework must cover assessment and treatment planning, special populations and ethnically diverse groups, pharmacology, ethics, and HIV/AIDs. Additionally, 300 hours of practical training that can be verified by a work experience and/or internship supervisor is necessary.

Experience must include the following fields:

  • Orientation
  • Case Management
  • Referral
  • Records and Reporting
  • Treatment Planning
  • Screening
  • Assessment
  • Intake
  • Counseling
  • Client Education
  • Examination
  • Consulting
  • Crisis Management

The LADC is the more advanced credentialing option. Candidates at this level must have at least a master’s degree from an accredited institution in social work, marriage and family therapy, counseling, psychology, or a related field. A minimum of eighteen graduate semester hours in counseling or counseling-related subjects is also required. Additionally, applicants should be CADCs; if they are not currently certified as alcohol and drug abuse counselors, submission of proof of all education and experience requirements mentioned above will also be necessary.

Careers for Addiction Counseling Graduates


Addiction counseling is not the only career pathway available. Individuals interested in the counseling field can choose from a wide variety of specializations in Connecticut.

Salaries and daily duties will vary, but some of the most common professions include:

  • School Counselor
  • Clinical Social Worker
  • Organizational Counselor
  • Sports Psychologist
  • Health Psychologist
  • Career Counselor
  • Genetic Counselor
  • Child Counselor
  • College Counselor
  • Military Counselor
  • Group Counselor or Therapist
  • Residential Counselor
  • Mental Health Counselor
  • Grief Counselor
  • Behavioral Therapist
  • School Counselor
    School counselors are responsible for assisting students in achieving their personal, academic, social, and development goals. They often facilitate the process of adjusting to a new school and/or preparing for college. These professionals may also consult with parents, intervene during challenging situations, refer support services, and help students overcome various obstacles. According to PayScale, school counselors make an average base salary of $51,350 per year.
  • Clinical Social Worker
    Clinical social workers provide therapy to individuals who require mental or emotional support. They coordinate patient care interactions, negotiate with their party groups, communicate with patients, and conduct psychosocial evaluations. These professionals often work for hospitals, mental health clinics, residential nursing facilities, home healthcare companies, or substance abuse treatment centers. According to PayScale, clinical social workers make an average base salary of $57,600 per year.
  • Sports Psychologist
    Sports psychologists work with athletes, coaches, and referees to ensure they are prepared for the demands of athletic training and competition. They often help athletes deal with the consequences of sustaining an injury. These professionals also assist referees and coaches in coping with the stresses related to their respective roles. According to PayScale, sports psychologists make an average base salary of $72,250 per year.
  • Genetic Counselor
    Genetic counselors are responsible for providing assistance and support in various areas, including genetic diseases, tumor analysis, and conception. They often help women and couples identify possible genetic defects and inform errors of mutation. These professionals often work alongside specialty physicians, providing advice and support as needed. According to PayScale, genetic counselors make an average base salary of $74,400 per year.
  • Residential Counselor
    Residential counselors are responsible for providing counseling services to residents at live-in facilities. They work with a variety of patient types, including people with addictions and disabilities, as well as the elderly and trouble youth. These professionals also provide individual and group counseling after conflicts or crises within the residence. According to PayScale, residential counselors make an average base hourly rate of $14.46, or approximately $39,700 per year.
  • Career Counselor
    Career counselors are responsible for helping their clients identify and pursue the most optimal career paths. They often administer tests that assess personality, interests, and aptitude, as well as provide advice regarding education requirements for jobs. These professionals also assist with career changes, background evaluations, and mock interviews. According to PayScale, career counselors make an average base salary of $46,500 per year.
  • Grief Counselor
    Grief counselors, or bereavement counselors, are responsible for helping families and friends of recently deceased persons work through issues related to death. They guide patients through the various stages of grieving in healthy ways. These professionals also often talk and listen in order to better understand underlying feelings and emotions involved with loss. According to PayScale, grief counselors make an average base salary of $46,900 per year.
  • Mental Health Counselor
    Mental health counselors are responsible for diagnosing and treating mental health problems and illnesses in patients. They assist patients work through or resolve existing issues in one-on-one settings and group sessions. These professionals may specialize in particular areas, such as young adult therapy or addiction. According to PayScale, mental health counselors make an average base salary of $44,200 per year.
  • Behavioral Therapist
    Behavioral therapists are responsible for assisting with the treatment of various mental health disorders using numerous behavioral techniques. They try to help patients modify and replace behaviors at home, in the community, and in clinical environments. These professionals also identify appropriate treatment plans for patients, as well as document treatment progress. According to PayScale, behavioral therapists make an average base hourly rate of $17.44, which translates to approximately $41,700 per year.

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