How to Become an Addiction Counselor in Michigan

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What is Addiction Counseling?


Addiction counselors have many responsibilities, most of which relate to helping people who are struggling with alcoholism and drug addictions. Working with patients from a wide variety of demographics, these professionals often serve as advocates. While they are unable to prescribe medications, addiction counselors use a variety of techniques to help their patients manage the physical and psychological difficulties that often accompany addictions.

Some addiction counselors choose to specialize in the treatment of a specific population type, but most are capable of working with any demographic including teenagers, adults, veterans, and people with disabilities. Every job is different and specific requirements can vary, but most addiction counselors are capable of evaluating patients and assessing their need and readiness for treatment. These professionals also develop and review treatment plans and goals, as well as assisting in the development of positive skills and behaviors. In some cases, addiction counselors may even meet and work with family members to provide reliable information and help create coping strategies. Additionally, coordination with other medical and mental health professionals is often necessary when developing and managing patient treatment plans.

The majority of addiction counselors work in individual and family service centers, hospitals, or residential substance abuse facilities. The profession is both extremely rewarding and highly demanding. Professionals may have to deal with large workloads that result in hectic schedules and working hours during evenings, nights, and/or weekends.


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Online Addiction Counseling Education in Michigan


Are you interested in earning an addiction counseling degree? This is an optimal major for individuals who want to help people struggling with drug and/or alcohol dependencies. While there are many benefits associated with a career in this field, some of the most prominent include sustained job security and opportunities to make a meaningful impact in the lives of others.

Most addiction counseling professionals have some form of advanced education, whether it’s an associate degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, or doctorate. While it is possible to find employment in the field without extensive higher education, the best jobs are typically reserved for those with mid to high-level degrees. Prospective students should carefully consider their professional goals prior to enrolling in academic programs.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors is expected to increase by 23% from 2020 to 2030. This is much faster than the average for all occupations and will add an average of 41,000 new jobs openings nationwide each year. The majority of these are expected to result from the need to replace professionals as they transfer to different occupations and retire. Additionally, demand for qualified addiction counselors is likely to rise as more and more state legal systems pursue treatment sentences rather than jail time.

The educational services, health care, and social assistance industry is the fourth largest in Michigan. It accounts for $49.5 billion in revenue each year. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the state employed 7,150 substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors in 2020, with an annual mean wage for local professionals of $50,480. The profession is financially competitive, as this wage is higher than the national median reported for all occupations.

It's important to note that those interested in becoming addiction counselors in Michigan should seriously consider pursuing their educations inside the state. There are many colleges and universities that offer applicable degrees at all levels and, while some may be tempted to enroll in online programs, which do tend to provide more flexibility, those who intend to work in Michigan may be better served by a local degree. There are a few primary reasons for this. As all substance abuse counselors must be certified and/or licensed in order to practice, it’s important to select a school that is familiar with state counseling rules and regulations. It’s possible to earn the necessary credentials after attaining a degree from another state, but the process can be more complicated. College and universities in the region will also offer more geographically relevant curriculums. Additionally, these institutions are likely to have established relationships nearby companies and organizations, making it easier to secure internships and/or employment opportunities.

Online Associate Degree in Addiction Counseling (AS)

Associate degrees related to addiction counseling generally consist of 60 credit hours of coursework. Full-time students can often complete graduation requirements within two years, while part-time students may require an addition one to two years. Many colleges and universities do accept transfer credits from accredited institutions, however, which can shorten timeframes.

Program specifics vary, but most are designed to introduce students to the fundamentals of patient care and treatment.

Some of the most common courses offered include:

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

It’s important to realize that the majority of addiction counseling professionals choose to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees. This is largely due to certification and licensure requirements for professional counselors in Michigan. Those who choose to earn associate degrees, however, may still be able to find entry-level employment opportunities in the field. Some potential professions available to graduates include human services assistants, halfway house administrative assistances, and adolescent counselors.

Alternatively, students can choose to enroll in further education. Credits earned during an associate degree program can be transferred to a bachelor’s degree program. After meeting the minimum academic requirements, graduates can apply for certification through the Michigan Certification Board for Addiction Professionals.

Online Bachelor's Degree in Addiction Counseling (BS)

Online bachelor’s degrees in addiction counseling 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. Again, credits may be applied from a previous associate degree to shorten this timeframe.

Every college and university program is different, but most require students to complete a mixture of general liberal arts education and subject-specific coursework.

Students can expect to take some of the following classes:

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

It’s important to realize that most professionals working in jobs related to addiction counseling have, at minimum, bachelor’s degrees. There are many acceptable related majors to choose from such as psychology, sociology, clinical social work, and mental health counseling. Many of these options also offer concentrations in substance abuse.

While graduates can choose to pursue entry-level employment, this level of education alone does not meet licensure standards certification and/or licensure in Michigan. The number of jobs available may also be limited, as available positions are often given to professionals with more education. Earning a bachelor’s degree in counseling or a related field is, however, necessary in order to enroll in a graduate program. Those seeking admittance into a master’s degree program will need to meet minimum grade point average GPA and GRE requirements.

Online Master's Degree in Addiction Counseling (MS)

Master’s degrees in addiction counseling typically consist of 60 credit hours of coursework and take full-time students approximately two years to complete. Every curriculum is different, but most colleges and universities strive to teach students to utilize various counseling approaches and research methods. In many cases, those enrolled will be expected to participate in field work and present capstone projects prior to graduation.

Some of the most commonly required courses are:

  • 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

This is a popular degree level in Michigan, as it is the minimum academic requirement for some certified counseling jobs. Earning a master’s degree and obtaining the appropriate credentials will help ensure graduates achieve their professional goals. Those with graduate degrees also tend to enjoy more job stability and higher pay.

Online PhD Degree in Addiction Counseling (PhD)

Doctorate degrees in addiction counseling often consist of between 90 and 120 credit hours and take full-time students five to seven years to complete. Program specifics different, but many are designed to provide a comprehensive assessment of the social and cultural causes behind addiction.

Some possible courses 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

A doctoral degree may not be required for all addiction counseling jobs in Michigan, but it is one way to meet the education requirements for some certifications. Choosing to pursue one can be quite beneficial for professionals in the field, as it can lead to more employment opportunities in leadership, substance abuse research, and/or education at the postsecondary level.

Become a Substance Abuse Counselor in Michigan


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 Michigan is determining the type of professional you intend to be.

The state offers several counseling certification options, all overseen by the Michigan Certification Board for Addiction Professionals (MCBAP):

  • Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CAADC)
  • Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC)
  • Certified Clinical Supervisor (CCS)
  • Certified Prevention Specialist (CPS)
  • Certified Prevention Consultant – Reciprocal (CPC – R)
  • Certified Peer Recovery Mentor (CPRM)

Each credential has its own unique requirements. CPRMs, for example, require only a high school diploma, while CADCs will need many years of formal education. Once you have identified your professional goals, it will become easier to determine what degree type is most appropriate. Two of the most prominent options are the CADC and CAADC credentials.

Those who intend to become CADCs must have 300 education hours, 180 of which must be specific to substance use disorder. Another 120 education hours may be related to the ADC domains and at least six must be from face-to-face instruction in behavioral health professional practice ethics. Candidates also need 6,000 hours of full- or part-time clinical counseling experience working with substance use disorder clients at a program licensed by the State of Michigan. An additional 300 hours of direct supervision in SUD services is also necessary. Prospective CADCs must also pass the Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ADC) examination offered by the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC). Those working on master’s degrees can opt for the Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (AADC) examination instead.

CAADC is the more advanced credentialing option. Candidates at this level must have at least a master’s degree or higher in psychology, social work, counseling, psychiatric nursing, addiction science, or marriage and family therapy – all with clinical application. This includes 180 education hours specific to substance use disorders and six face-to-face behavioral health professional practice ethics hours offered by a MCBAP-approved entity. Those planning to apply will also need 2,000 hours of full- or part-time clinical counseling experience working with substance use disorder or co-occurring disorder clients at a licensed service provider in Michigan after earning their master’s degree. Additionally, 100 hours of direct supervision in SUD services is necessary. Candidates for this credential must also pass the Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (AADC) offered by the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC).

Potential Careers for Addiction Counseling Graduates


While a degree in addiction counseling can lead to a career as an addiction counselor, there are many other related employment opportunities available in Michigan. Those interested in the field can choose from a wide variety of specializations. Each profession is different, with salaries and responsibilities that range significantly, but some of the most commonly available options include the following.

  • School Counselor
    School counselors provide support and assistance to students as they work toward their personal, academic, social, and development goals in high school. These professionals often achieve this by intervening during challenging situations, referring to support services, facilitating adjustments to new school settings, and providing preparatory assistance for college. They may also consult with parents in order to 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. This often consists of conducting psychosocial evaluations, communicating with patients, coordinating patient care interactions, and negotiating with third party groups. They typically work in 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 are responsible for ensuring that athletes, coaches, and referees are adequately prepared for the demands of athletic training and competition. This frequently entails helping athletes deal with the consequences of sustaining an injury, but may also necessitate providing assistance to referees and coaches as they cope with the stresses related to their respective roles. According to PayScale, sports psychologists make an average base salary of $72,250 per year.
  • Residential Counselor
    Counselors work with residents of live-in facilities, providing a wide variety of counseling services as needed. This generally entails offering individual and group counseling after conflicts and/or addressing crises within the residence. These professionals must be capable of working with a variety of patient types, including people with addictions and disabilities, the elderly, and troubled youth. According to PayScale, residential counselors make an average base hourly rate of $14.46, or approximately $39,700 per year.
  • Grief Counselor
    Grief counselors help their patients work through various issues related to the loss of loved ones. This typically entails guiding patients through the various stages of grief and encouraging healthy coping techniques. These professionals spend a lot of time discussing patient feelings in order to better understand direct counseling treatments. According to PayScale, grief counselors make an average base salary of $46,850 per year.
  • Mental Health Counselor
    Mental health counselors diagnose and treat mental health problems and illnesses. This often means helping patients work through or resolve existing issues in one-on-one or group settings. These professionals can choose to specialize in particular areas, such as addiction. According to PayScale, mental health counselors make an average base salary of $44,250 per year.
  • Behavioral Therapist
    Behavioral therapists utilize various techniques to treat patients diagnosed with mental health disorders. This often entails helping patients modify and replace negative behaviors by receiving treatment at home, in the community, and in clinical environments. These professionals also document treatment progress. According to PayScale, behavioral therapists make an average base hourly rate of $17.44, which translates to approximately $41,650 per year.

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