Adult & Continuing Studies

Alcohol & Drug Counseling Certificate

Make a difference in the lives of those experiencing substance use disorders by starting on the path to becoming a certified alcohol and drug counselor.

alcohol and drug counseling session with client

Program Overview

Widener's alcohol and drug counseling certificate program for adult & continuing studies students allows you to gain the knowledge and skills to pursue a career in substance abuse counseling, and provides the foundation for successful completion of practicum hours and certification.

This credit-bearing program is for students who do not have a college degree or are in the process of earning an associate's or bachelor's degree. Credits from the certificate program can be transferred into one of our existing associate's or bachelor's degree programs.

Alcohol and drug counselors work to help people overcome addiction and substance abuse. The counselor might stage interventions, conduct intakes, and lead ongoing individual and group therapy sessions. They assess the client's condition and circumstances and help them put together a path toward recovery. As a result of the pandemic, which exacerbated the overdose crisis, demand for trained addiction professionals is high and recruitment of new workers to the field is crucial. 

Pennsylvania and New Jersey laws and requirements that regulate this profession are based on your education level, so the path toward becoming an alcohol and drug counselor will look different for each student. Your Widener advisor will work with you to chart the path that works for you!

NOTE: This program is also offered at the graduate level for students who have a bachelor's or master's degree. Please see our Graduate Studies academic offerings for details about the graduate-level alcohol & drug counseling certificate program.

Program Information

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Students enrolled in the alcohol and drug counseling certificate program will increase their knowledge in addiction, human services, human development, and ethical behavior. They will fulfill the following specific objectives through their study:

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of clinical skills such as crisis intervention, treatment planning, individual therapy, and group counseling
  2. Understand the impact of drug interaction on the brain and behavior
  3. Develop knowledge of human development across the lifespan and the impact of race, socioeconomic status, and stress on behavior, opportunity, and addiction
  4. Be prepared to work in a variety of clinical settings including school, community, or medical facilities
  5. Identify best practices for working with diverse individuals
  6. Demonstrate comprehensive knowledge in preparation for the IC&RC Examination for Alcohol and Drug Counselors.

You can pursue certification as an alcohol and drug counselor with a high school degree, but many professionals with an associate's, bachelor's, or master's degree in a related area seek out certification to expand their employment opportunities. 

The eligibility requirements* for CAAC or CADC typically include: 

  • Approved education hours
  • Supervision or practicum hours
  • Supervised work experience
  • Passing score on the IC&RC Examination for Alcohol and Drug Counselors

[*The number of hours varies by state, desired certification, and student's level of education.]

Please note that completion of the courses in Widener's alcohol and drug counseling certificate program does not meet the full requirements for Pennsylvania and New Jersey certifications. Students will need to complete supervised practicum hours and pass the certification examination. 

Please visit the Pennsylvania Certification Board (PCB) and the Addiction Professionals Certification Board of New Jersey websites to view the most up-to-date information for becoming a certified alcohol and drug counselor.

It is the responsibility of the student to check the requirements for the specific state certification they are interested in. Depending on the state, classes taken online may be subject to additional certification restrictions by state and eligibility should be confirmed prior to enrollment.

Complete the online certificate program in alcohol and drug counseling and then easily transition to the associate's or bachelor's degree in allied health.  

The transition is simple; students enrolled in the certificate will only have to complete a short application and will have all their discounted certificate course credits applied to the degree program.

Admissions Information

  • Online continuing studies application
  • Personal statement: Please explain why you are interested in this certificate program with particular emphasis on your area of specialization. (Applicants should limit this essay to no more than one typewritten page.)
  • All official transcripts

No application deadline (rolling admissions)

Per Credit Tuition Cost 

See the Adult & Continuing Studies Tuition & Fees page for the per credit tuition cost for undergraduate continuing studies certificate programs.   

Additional Fees

Additional costs to students include required textbooks, educational materials, and the examination fee for the IC&RC Examination for Alcohol and Drug Counselors (currently $375.00).

Students may also incur expenses related to clinical supervision, but many will be able to use current employment sites for supervision at no cost, if they work in the recovery field.

Ways to Save

Though the alcohol and drug counseling certificate program does not qualify for federal financial aid if taken alone, it is offered at a discounted tuition rate. We can advise you on program and payment plan options that will meet your needs. 

We also recommend that you:

  • Explore tuition remission benefits through your employer.
  • Check out our employer partnerships for discounted tuition rates for local organizations and corporations. If you don't see your organization listed, reach out to your HR department to advocate for a partnership.   
  • Transition your discounted certificate credits to one of our associate's or bachelor's degree programs to save money on completion of your degree. 

Program Highlights

100% Online Coursework

This 100% online certificate program offers you the convenience and flexibility of completing coursework when you want, where you want. Instead of having to adjust your schedule and personal responsibilities to attend in-person classroom sessions, you are free to study at any time, whether in the early hours of the morning or late at night. Widener offers the chance to learn on your time and your terms. 

Expert Faculty & Advisors Dedicated to Your Success

While navigating the path toward certification, your Widener advisor and faculty mentors will make it a priority to get to know your circumstances, goals, and vision for the future. With this support system in place, you'll graduate from the certificate program well prepared to complete the remainder of the alcohol and drug counseling certification requirements.

Expanded Career Opportunities

Designed for those working in the human services, health promotion, and addictions fields, as well as counselors and social workers, this certificate opens the doors to additional therapeutic credentials.

Your Inside Track to Success

Your Inside Track to Success

Substance use disorder treatment agencies employ thousands of hard-working, dedicated individuals making a difference in the lives of those experiencing substance use disorders.

Where Do Substance Abuse Counselors Work

  • Mental health or community health centers
  • Substance abuse rehabilitation facilities
  • Private practice
  • Schools
  • Hospitals
  • Employee assistance programs
  • Insurance and managed care organizations
  • Correctional facilities
  • Military treatment centers

Outlook & Outcomes

Industry Growth

Employment of substance abuse counselors is expected to grow 22% by 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations. 
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Critical Need

The need for well-prepared, empathetic, and culturally diverse professionals is at crisis levels in schools, hospitals, and community agencies.

Take the Next Steps


Applying online is easy—and it's free! Have questions about your individual requirements? Request an in-person or virtual meeting with an admissions advisor for guidance prior to submitting your application.