How to Become an Addiction Counselor in Mississippi

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What is Addiction Counseling?

Mississippi is a diverse place. While it may be considered part of the agrarian South, it has evolved to meet the demands of the modern era. In fact, its economy is led by industries such as manufacturing, real estate, social services including healthcare and education, retail trade, and professional or business services. Along with these industries come all the luxuries of modern life. However, these luxuries also include difficulties.

For instance, the proliferation of chain pharmacies has been part of the increase in retail trade throughout Mississippi. These stores bring needed medications to people with reliable pricing and a cornucopia of other goods including food, clothing, household items, and cosmetics, to name a few. However, the downside is that these pharmacies also bring highly addictive opioid medications to every small town in Mississippi. Some people, when they start taking these medications, become addicted. The cycle of addiction brings with it crime, street drugs, and overdoses.

To help address the problems associated with the opioid epidemic, Mississippi has worked hard to support an infrastructure of addiction counseling professionals and drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers. Unfortunately, these rehabilitation centers can be overwhelmed by crushing demand. Therefore, Mississippi's colleges and universities are called to help fill the demand for highly qualified, licensed addiction counseling professionals.

The state has even created a special counseling license that is designed especially for those who wish to work with addicted clientele. This license requires a master’s degree but there is a lot of latitude in terms of which specific degree a student earns. For instance, someone with a healthcare administration degree can qualify for a license to work with substance abuse disorder. Even those with an unrelated graduate degree can take classes that relate to counseling and then earn licensure.

Even those with an associate counseling degree or a bachelor’s counseling degree can work in the addiction rehabilitation field. They will not qualify for a license, but they can still work as staffers under supervision. In fact, this experience will likely count toward the experience part of their licensure requirement.


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Addiction Counseling Education in Mississippi


An addiction counselor is a mental health professional who specializes in work with those who suffer with substance abuse disorder. Their work is most often found in drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers or outpatient clinics that are designed for this specific purpose. Mississippi offers only a few options for addiction counselor licensure, and they all require a master’s addiction counseling degree. However, Mississippi drug rehabilitation facilities may be able to hire staff for non-counseling positions, which allow workers to be a part of the rehabilitation process without providing one-on-one counseling services.

Once licensed by the Mississippi Department of Mental Health, addiction counselors conduct careers that generally take place in drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities. They are also licensed to conduct one-on-one counseling sessions with clients who are suffering with substance abuse disorder. In fact, some addiction counselors work in private practice or with other outpatient solutions to the scourge of drug abuse.

In order to become a fully licensed addiction counselor in the state of Mississippi, students need to achieve at least a master’s degree. While many other states license addiction counseling professionals with associate and bachelor’s degrees, Mississippi allows a wide berth for the education requirement. Where many other states have a narrow range of qualifying master’s degrees such as clinical psychology, social work, or addiction counseling, Mississippi has a long list of degrees that satisfy their licensure requirements.

For instance, addiction counselors in Mississippi can hold degrees in healthcare administration, sociology, criminal justice, or family and consumer studies. They also license addiction counselors who have atypical degrees that aren't on their list of appropriate degrees. While applicants still need a master’s degree, they can add five courses to their transcripts and qualify to work as addiction rehabilitation counseling professionals in Mississippi. These courses include, but are not limited to, developmental psychology, addiction studies, theories of counseling, counseling and assessment, and psychopharmacology.

Online Associate Degree in Addiction Counseling (AS)

An associates is a terrific degree to get a start in the addiction counseling field. While Mississippi does not license addiction counselors at the associate addiction counseling degree level, it’s still possible to get started in social services and/or a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility. In fact, no state offers a license to associate degree holders that allows the professional to work one-on-one in psychotherapy. The lack of licensure may reduce some costs for the worker.

An associate degree in substance abuse counseling has other advantages, as well. Since this degree only takes two years to complete, it's easier to get started to work in a drug and alcohol rehab and start gaining valuable experience. This is a very demanding field, so entering with a two-year degree is a good way to determine if the field is a good fit. On top of that, Mississippi community colleges charge far less per credit hour than their four-year colleges and universities. Thus, even those who continue on for a bachelor’s degree save loads of money by first earning an associate addiction counseling degree from a Mississippi community college.

Online Bachelor's Degree in Addiction Counseling (BS)

Much like an associate addiction counseling degree, bachelor’s degree holders in Mississippi do not qualify for state licensure. However, a suitable degree can help a student launch a career working in a substance abuse clinic as a staff member. These facilities will prefer a bachelor’s degree in a suitable field such as counseling, psychology, sociology, or healthcare administration. They are likely to also conduct a background check and ask for multiple references.

A BS in addiction counseling can also be useful for those who desire a full counseling degree and a counseling license. The four-year degree can pave the way to an entry-level position in a Mississippi rehabilitation center where a student can learn about the industry and then make decisions as to their next move. They may choose a master of social work for their next degree or perhaps a degree in clinical psychology. From this vantage, students may even decide to pursue a career in psychological research, for which the bachelor’s degree is a necessary first step.

Online Master's Degree in Addiction Counseling (MS)

Mississippi only offers substance abuse rehabilitation counseling licenses to those with at least a master’s degree in addiction counseling. For those who have clearly decided on a career working with substance abuse disorder patients, a master’s addiction counseling degree is optimal. However, Mississippi offers licenses for those who hold master’s degrees in other related fields. In fact, Mississippi's education criteria may be some of the broadest in the nation. Students can hold master’s degrees in subjects including psychology, sociology, criminal justice, child and family studies, and psychiatric nursing, among many others. Additionally, a person with a master’s degree that falls outside of the normal criteria can still work as a rehabilitation counseling professional.

Upon earning a degree acceptable to the Mississippi Department of Mental Health, students still have other criteria to complete. The Mississippi DMH requires that students complete two years of supervised work experience under a licensed mental health professional. The department notes that relevant work experience completed prior to completing one's master’s addiction counseling degree may count toward their experience requirement. This can include work as an employee or as a student intern. Please consult the DMH website for more specific details.

Online PhD Degree in Addiction Counseling (PhD)

A PhD in addiction rehabilitation counseling is the ultimate degree for this career. Those with a PhD are often well paid and enjoy very high professional esteem from their colleagues. A doctorate counseling degree may even be helpful for those who decide to transition into an administrative role within their rehabilitation center. They may also be placed in charge of designing educational resources, hiring new counseling professionals as well as non-licensed staff.

A PhD has an added benefit in that it can pave the way to a second career in academia. Most colleges and universities prefer to hire PhDs and will reward them accordingly. Naturally, a rehabilitation counseling professional can also choose to teach in a Mississippi college or university on a part-time basis. This can be rewarding while providing additional income. Many PhDs even retire from rehabilitation counseling and start teaching as a second career in their later years.

Online Addiction Counseling Certifications

There are many different types of addiction counseling certifications that are available to students in Mississippi. The most common type of certification is the Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC) certification. This certification is offered through the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC). To become a CADC, you must complete an accredited training program and pass an exam. Other types of addiction counseling certifications include the Certified Addictions Professional (CAP) and the Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (AADC) certification.

Certification requirements for addiction counselors in Mississippi are more stringent than in some other states. Candidates must have a minimum of a bachelor's degree from an accredited school, and they must complete at least 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience. They must also pass an exam administered by the Association of Addiction Professionals.

Types of Substance Abuse Counseling Certifications in Mississippi

There are many different types of addiction counseling certifications in Mississippi. The most common type of certification is the Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC) certification. This certification is offered through the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC). To become a CADC, you must complete an accredited training program and pass an exam. Other types of addiction counseling certifications include the Certified Addictions Professional (CAP) and the Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (AADC) certification.

CACREP Accredited Certification

Certification is important in any profession to ensure that practitioners have met a certain level of standards. The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) is a national accrediting agency for counseling programs. CACREP-accredited programs offer the best training and preparation for professional counselors. Earning your degree from a CACREP-accredited program can help you pursue certification with the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC).

Counselor Testing & Examination Process in MIssissippi

If you are looking to become a licensed counselor in the state of Mississippi, there are a few things you will need to do. The first step is to complete an application with the Mississippi Board of Counselor licensure. This application asks for general information about yourself, as well as your educational and professional background. You will also be asked to provide proof of your education and supervised clinical experience.

Once your application is complete, you will need to take the National Counselor Examination (NCE). This exam is administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) and is designed to assess your knowledge and skills in counseling. Once you have passed the NCE, you will need to submit a final application packet to the Mississippi Board of Counselor licensure.

Become a Substance Abuse Counselor in Mississippi


There are many roads people choose to follow on the way to becoming an addiction counselor in Mississippi. The first step along that journey often involves some sort of inspiring experience. That may be in the form of personal experience with drug and alcohol abuse, or it may arise from the addiction or troubles experienced by a friend or family member. Still others may simply see addiction rehabilitation counseling as a way to address a growing social problem, such as the opioid epidemic.

In fact, communities all across Mississippi have experienced terrible fallout from this healthcare crisis. When pharmaceuticals began distributing highly addictive opioid medications to pharmacies all over the state, rates of addiction and overdose skyrocketed. As a result, many victims have turned the corner thanks to addiction counseling professionals and now desire to turn around and help their fellow addicts.

The first step toward becoming an addiction counselor in Mississippi is to start taking college courses. To ensure best success, it's advised to start taking related courses in fields such as psychology, sociology, healthcare administration, counseling, and criminal justice. An associate or bachelor’s degree in one of these fields will help with a job search for an entry-level position in a rehabilitation facility.

Once you have a staff position with a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility in Mississippi, you will naturally accrue valuable experience in the field. This will pay off in a variety of ways. Perhaps the most important payoff is the fact that any tenure in a rehab will help you make decisions about the future. After all, working with substance abuse disorder is a very demanding career choice of which it's vital to be 100% sure that it's right for you.

Once they have determined that this is the right field, staffers in rehabilitation facilities should start considering a master’s addiction counseling degree. Mississippi only confers licenses to those with a master’s degree and above. Licensure candidates will be asked to complete two years of supervised practice under a licensed professional. You'll also need to submit a background check, letters of reference, as well as evidence of a completed ethics course. Please check with the Mississippi department of mental health for current requirements.

This licensure will also open up more possibilities for your careers. Those who complete graduate work in clinical psychology or social work can branch out into a career that includes private practice, independent consulting, or other options.

Potential Careers for Counseling Graduates


  • School Counselor

    This position requires a master’s counseling degree, often a MEd in school counseling. Candidates also need to earn a teaching certificate from the state of Mississippi or their state of residence. Certification includes passing the PRAXIS exam, or the equivalent exam in their district. School counselors help students overcome the difficulties that impede their ability to learn.

  • Clinical Social Worker

    This position requires a master of social work degree, two years of supervised work, a background check, and letters of reference. There may be other requirements according to your local jurisdiction. These counseling professionals can work in drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities or in private practice, among many other options. In fact, their MSW credentials can facilitate a career filled with interesting opportunities.

  • Adult and Geriatric Counselor

    As people enter their later years in life, new issues arise related to their family relationships and issues that tend to affect older generations, such as loneliness after retiring and similar things. To practice in this field, it is necessary to earn a master’s degree and a state license to practice psychotherapy. The most common degrees for this field are a master’s degree in clinical psychology or a master of social work. State licensure requirements apply, which should be available from one's academic adviser.

  • Sports Psychologist

    This field can encompass careers where the practitioner conducts one-on-one therapy with athletes or work as an athletic coach. Sports psychologists often work as full-time coaches in larger sports facilities. They can also land positions with professional sports organizations. These professionals may only need licensure if they work as one-on-one counselors with athletes. Otherwise, they can apply their knowledge of sports psychology as a coach or mentor.

  • Career Counselor

    These counseling professionals don't need licenses from the state, but they typically will have a master’s degree in career counseling. The job is most often found on a college or university campus, where they help students achieve their career goals. This can include work with individual students and organizing large career fairs where recruiters come to campus to find their next round of qualified professionals.

  • Mental Health Counselor

    This career field requires a master’s counseling degree. Professionals in this field typically work in private practice where they may specialize in specific populations such as adolescents, geriatric clients, or substance abuse disorders. To earn a state license, candidates will need to complete a two-year period of supervised practice, pass an examination, and submit to a background check, among other requirements. It's advised that all candidates consult with their academic adviser or appropriate state mental health licensure agency.

  • Grief Counselor

    When we lose a loved one, the grieving process can take weeks or even years to complete. Grief counselors help survivors to cope with their loss and move forward with healthy, successful lives. This field requires a full mental health counselor licensure from a state agency. That will include a master’s degree in clinical psychology, a master of social work, or even credentials to work as a pastoral counselor, among other options. Please consult with the appropriate state agency for the full licensure requirements and options.

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