Addiction Counselors: The Ultimate Guide of the 12 Core Functions of Addiction Counseling.

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If you plan to earn your addiction counseling certification, one of the first pieces of information you will encounter is related to the 12 Core functions for addiction counselors. To become an effective addiction counselor, you must be competent. When you succeed, the populations you serve have a chance for success (whatever success looks like to them) increases.

The core functions of addiction counseling encompass a wide range of essential tasks one must accomplish daily. Knowing the specifics behind these 12 Core Functions could provide a solid foundation for further exploration if you’ve ever pondered what addiction counselors do. A comprehensive set of criteria governs each function. This article will introduce the 12 Core Functions for addiction counselors and the corresponding global criteria that apply to each function.

Obtaining knowledge of the 12 Cofre Functions before starting your addiction counselor training because the functions will also serve as your map to developing a thorough understanding of your job roles and duties as an addiction specialist. 

Let’s jump in and take a quick look at the 12 core functions:

1. Screening

The screening process determines whether a client is appropriate for a substance use treatment program in need of assistance. Substance abuse counselors must understand addiction and its associated signs and symptoms to screen clients for a use disorder. Before an individual becomes a patient in any substance abuse counseling program, it is crucial to determine whether or not they are an ideal match for the program.

“The global criteria crucial to screening are as follows:

1. Evaluate the psychological, social, and physiological signs and symptoms of alcohol and other drug abuse.

2. Determine the client’s appropriateness for admission or referral.

3. Determine the client’s eligibility for admission or referral.

4. Identify any coexisting conditions (medical, psychiatric, physical, etc.) that indicate the need for additional professional assessment and services.

5. Adhere to applicable laws, regulations, and agency policies governing alcohol and other drug abuse services.”


What this criterion means:

Admitting a potential client for treatment can be a difficult decision. Intake drug counselors must use diagnostic criteria to determine if the person has a use disorder. Often, there are other factors to consider as well before making a final decision.

All counselors must be able to describe the criteria they use and demonstrate their competence by presenting specific examples of how the use of alcohol and other drugs has become dysfunctional for a particular client. Determining a client’s appropriateness for a program requires the counselor’s judgment and skill, and the program’s environment and modality influence it.

All counselors must be able to explain the standards they use to judge if a client is appropriate for their program. They also need to show that they know what they’re doing by giving examples of how someone might use alcohol or drugs in a way that’s harmful to themselves or others. Part of this process is understanding how the program’s environment and methods could influence someone’s behavior.

Shall we move the 2nd, 12 Core Core Function?

2. Intake

After you’ve determined that the client fits your program during the screening process, it is time to begin the intake or admissions process. During this process, treatment program clients complete paperwork unique to the facility. The paperwork often includes signing consent forms, rules and regulations, HIPAA forms, insurance information, demographic data, emergency contacts, an initial biopsychosocial assessment, and a client’s substance use disorder diagnosis.

“The global criteria crucial to Intake is as follows:

6. Complete the required documents for admission to the program.

7. Complete the required documents for program eligibility and appropriateness.

8. Obtain appropriately signed consents when soliciting from or providing information to outside sources to protect client confidentiality and rights.


What this criterion means for this core function:

The intake process is an essential step in counseling. You can consider it an extension of the initial screening. It helps to document the initial assessment and collect vital information from the client. This information helps the counselor understand the client’s needs and determine the best course of treatment. 

In many outpatient programs in NYS, the screening process usually occurs over 3 days. The new client will sit with a CASAC counselor, CASAC-T (counselor in training), or a specialized intake coordinator. 

3. Orientation

During this phase of your client education program, you help them understand the details of the overall program, and you will explain the rules and other regulations of the program. The intake counselor will also introduce the new client to staff while giving them a tour of the facility. During orientation, it is crucial to make new clients feel comfortable, safe, and respected. Their decision to enter a drug treatment program often creates fear and uneasiness for individuals first stepping into recovery.

“The global criteria crucial to orientation are as follows:


9. Provide an overview to the client by describing program goals and objectives for client care.

10. Provide an overview to the client by describing program rules and client obligations and rights.

11. Provide an overview to the client of program operations.” 


What this criterion means:

The orientation is an important part of the client’s journey. It often occurs before, during, and after the client’s screening and Intake. Orientation allows the client to learn more about what to expect from the treatment and ask any questions they may have. Other personnel, such as those specializing in medication, may be brought in for specific aspects of the orientation.

Let’s move to the 4th, 12 Core Core Function.

4. Assessment 

Assessing a client is essential to creating an individualized treatment plan that considers each person’s needs. Gathering information about their background, health status, and drug use patterns all contribute to the assessment process – which ultimately leads to an effective solution.

An assessment is an important part of any drug treatment program and helps better to understand your client’s history and current situation.

The assessment should include their backgrounds, drug use, and health concerns. This information can help to create an individualized treatment plan that meets your client’s needs.

In an assessment, a drug counselor identifies an individual’s strengths and weaknesses and needs to develop a treatment plan.

However, it is essential to note that each client is unique. Therefore no single approach will work for everyone. It is vital to take the time to get to know each client and their struggle before crafting a solution is essential.

“The global criteria crucial to assessment are as follows:

12. Gather relevant history from a client, including but not limited to alcohol and other drug abuse, using appropriate interview techniques.

13. Identify methods and procedures for obtaining corroborative information from significant secondary sources regarding the client’s alcohol and other drug abuse and psycho-social history.

14. Identify appropriate assessment tools.

15. Explain to the client the rationale for the use of assessment techniques to facilitate understanding.

16. Develop a diagnostic evaluation of the client’s substance abuse and any coexisting conditions based on the results of all assessments to provide an integrated approach to treatment planning based on the client’s strengths, weaknesses, and identified problems and needs.”


What this criterion means:

Although assessment is a continual process, there is more attention to this core function in early treatment. It comes from interviews, testing, and reviews of records.

The counselor evaluates different areas of life (for example, physical health, job development, social skills, legal Involvement, and psychological functioning) and sees how alcohol or drug use has impacted the client’s ability to function.

The results of this assessment should give some direction to treatment.

Have you noticed that each of the 12 Core Functions of addiction counselors builds on the previous function?

Attention CASACs and credentialed addiction counselors:

Educational Enhancement CASAC Online’s Screening, Assessment, and Evaluation detail the first four Core Functions for substance use counselors.


The 12 core functions of addition counselors is vital to the field and out CASAC training  is set up so you learn each of these functions.

Considering a Career as a substance use counseling professional?

If you are considering a career as a credentialed substance use counselor, our school follows the same pathway as the 12 Core Functions. You will also get an in-depth look at the science of addiction, ethics, cultural competence, and in other areas of professionalism. 

Alright, shall we keep moving through the 12 core functions of addiction counselors?

5. Treatment Planning

Once you have completed a detailed assessment, it’s time to plan your patient’s treatment. Of course, the patient will be involved during each step of the process, as it’s crucial that they understand the treatment plan and how and why the addiction counselor chose it.

The treatment plan goals and objectives will reflect the needs and changes your client wishes to address during treatment.

Update treatment goals regularly to stay on track with what your client wants to gain from treatment.

Prioritize each problem statement and plan according to the client’s preference, not your own. 

Remember, clients come to treatment with different backgrounds and addiction severity. Yet your client must determine the importance of each agreed upon short and long-term goal.  During the treatment planning core function, you’ll discuss the different treatment methods available to your patient and the resources available to support them through their treatment and recovery. It is essential to consider all of this when creating a treatment plan. New drug counselors sometimes forget that the treatment process should reflect the client’s needs and wants, not the counselor’s.

“The global criteria crucial to assessment are as follows:

17. Explain assessment results to the client in an understandable manner.

18. Identify and rank problems based on individual client needs in the written treatment plan.

19. Formulate agreed-upon immediate and long-term goals using behavioral terms in the written treatment plan.

20. Identify the treatment methods and resources appropriate for the individual client.”


What this criterion means:

The treatment goals/plan is based on the assessment and is a product of negotiation between the client and counselor. The language of the problem, goal, and strategy statements should be specific and expressed in behavioral terms.

The goal statements refer specifically to the identified problem and may include one or a set of objectives ultimately intended to solve or mitigate the problem.

When it comes to goal setting, counselors and clients should always err on the side of specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals.

In other words, goals expressed in terms of change allow you to track progress based on the changes made.  Establish long-term goals immediately. 

Finally, the plan is a specific activity that links the problem with the goal. It describes the services, who will provide them, when, and at what frequency of servicing provision.

The treatment contract is based on the assessment and is a product of negotiation between the client and counselor. The goal statements refer specifically to the identified problem and may include one or a set of objectives ultimately intended to solve or mitigate the problem.

Change is the best indicator of progress in counseling. It can be challenging to determine client progress without specific goals for what you want to change. Try to break your larger goal into more manageable steps, and celebrate each accomplishment along the way! This goes for both immediate and long-term goals. There needs to be a plan or strategy in place that links the problem with the goal. The plan includes describing the services, who will provide the services, and when.

Treatment planning is a dynamic process. 

Throughout treatment, you and the client will update plans and goal statements accordingly.

Drug counselor education and training providers stress to new students the amount of paperwork involved with planning and carrying out the process of substance use counseling. While it may seem like a lot of work, this documentation is essential to helping patients manage their long-term recovery.

Attention Substance Use Treatment Professionals

Check out Educational Enhancement CASAC Online’s NAADAC and OASAS Approved Treatment Planning Client Record Keeping, and Discharge Planning drug counselor renewal training.

Finally, the next Core Function of addiction counseling is why you want to enter the addiction recovery field.

The 6th 12 Core function is …

6. Counseling

Counseling can involve many options, including individual, family, and group counseling. Counseling involves various interventions, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, stages of change, or choice theory, to help patients deal with their issues.

Once a plan is in place, counseling begins.

The goal of counseling is to actively help and support the client in achieving the objectives of their treatment plan.

During counseling, the client will explore an issue, possible consequences and impact, how it relates to attitudes and feelings, and consider alternatives.

The process involves exploring a problem, examining attitudes and feelings, considering alternative solutions, and deciding.

“The global criteria crucial to counseling are as follows:

21. Select the counseling theory(ies) that apply(ies).

22. Apply technique(s) to assist the client, group, and family in exploring problems and ramifications.

23. Apply technique(s) to assist the client, group, and family in examining the client’s behavior, attitudes, and feelings, if appropriate, in the treatment setting.

24. Individualize counseling by cultural, gender, and lifestyle differences.

25. Interact with the client in an appropriate therapeutic manner. 

26. Elicit solutions and decisions from the client.

27. Implement the treatment plan.”


What this criterion means:

Counseling typically occurs after patients have taken several initial steps toward recovery, such as individual counseling, family counseling, and group counseling.

The counselor and client will work together to mitigate the problem statements by working together to complete treatment goals and objectives.

Special skills and interventions utilized to help individuals achieve objectives include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Reality Therapy or Choice Theory
  • Motivational Enhancement Therapy
  • Recovery Management (relapse prevention)
  • Motivational Interviewing
  • Strategic Family Therapy
  • Client-Centered Therapy 
  • and many other behavioral therapy approaches

Need a refresher on Individual Counseling, Foundations of Counseling, or Group Counseling?

Check out our  NAADAC and OASAS-approved drug counselor training courses. Click here to view our list of 500+ CASAC renewal or substance use counselor renewal training hours.

The 7th 12 Core Function is vital in building your client’s self-esteem and support in early recovery. 

7. Case Management

As a CASAC or other certified addiction counseling professional, you will create a plan for each patient that includes various services.

Case management can include the following:

  • finding 12-step programs or other mutual aid support groups,
  • identifying doctors to treat various physical ailments or mental health disorders,
  • job readiness,
  • GED or higher education applications,
  • housing, or
  • volunteer work.

Each case will be unique and designed to help your client build a network of support in early recovery.

“The global criteria crucial to case management are as follows:

28. Coordinate services for client care.

29. Explain the rationale of case management activities to the client. 


What this criterion means:

When addiction professionals perform case management, persons with use disorders can get help to meet their needs in many different areas.

When it comes to addiction, there tend to be a lot of associated problems that come along with it. That’s where case management comes in – the coordination of a plan involves multiple services. Oftentimes, persons with use disorders will need to meet with various professionals to meet other needs. These needs or issues often directly relate to their use disorder. For example, a person with a heroin use disorder might also have hepatitis, lack job skills, and have pending criminal charges. In this scenario, a substance abuse counselor will get consent to speak with the client’s medical team, career coach and vocational counselor, and attorney.

The counselor’s work with clients doesn’t stop at just monitoring medical treatment and making referrals. To create an effective treatment plan, the counselor must communicate with other professionals the client sees, such as family therapists, mental health professionals, recovery coaches, or parole and probation officers.

Do you think your caseload would benefit if you took a Case Management, Referral, and Service Coordination refresher?

Educational Enhancement has OASAS and NAADAC-approved 12-hour Case Management, Referral, & Service Coordination renewal training. 

The training is 100% online. Self-study. Self-paced. Your client caseload thrives when you work to keep your addiction counseling credential up-to-date, informed, and relevant to the ever-changing addiction recovery field.

The following core function is…

8. Crisis Intervention

Crisis intervention pertains to services that help people with use disorders during emotional and physical distress. Any crisis in early recovery requires immediate action to address its impact. When a crisis manifests from an emotional dilemma, it’s helpful to have a plan ready to help clients work through the situation and return to a more positive state of mind and body.

Crisis intervention is a lot like being a doctor.

You have to recognize the symptoms of a problem and then take action to solve it without hesitation.

Some crisis interventions include the following:

  • assessing a client for suicidal ideations
  • creating a suicide emergency plan
  • helping a client manage an event when they returned to use
  • managing grief
  • a detailed safety plan of action against intimate partner violence
  • divorce
  • death of a loved one
  • loss of a job

“The global criteria crucial to crisis intervention are as follows:

30. Recognize the elements of the client crisis.

31. Implement an immediate course of action appropriate to the crisis.

32. Enhance overall treatment by utilizing crisis events.” 


What this criterion means:

Crises can come in many forms, and counselors need to be able to identify them when they surface. Some everyday situations include the death of a loved one, relationship problems, arrest, suicidal thoughts, or mental health problems.

Counselors need to be able to help clients resolve the immediate problem and use adverse events to enhance treatment efforts, if possible.

A crisis is a turning point in treatment that could jeopardize or end the treatment process. Crisis can sometimes be caused by alcohol or drug use (for example, an overdose or returning to active use) or unrelated to substance abuse.

Let’s move on to the 9h core function…

9. Client Education

Addiction is a disease, and most people (especially persons with use disorders users) are unaware of what drug and alcohol use can do.

Many clients are in denial regarding their substance use disorder or other problems.

Counselors have the unique opportunity to educate their clients using formal and informal interventions. They assist in teaching life skills that lead to better decision-making and more.

Addiction counselors help to educate clients about support services and addiction itself. An essential aspect of this core function is educating clients to make more informed decisions about their care and treatment. Learning about the many resources available to them is vital to effective treatment. 

“The global criteria crucial to client education are as follows:

33. Present relevant alcohol and other drug use/abuse information to the client through formal and informal processes.

34. Present information about available alcohol and other drug services and resources.”


What this criterion means:

Client education is an integral part of treatment. In some programs, clients will participate in formal classes with reading materials and films. Other programs might offer outpatient counseling where the counselor will provide relevant information to the client individually or informally.

Client education may include information about self-help groups and other available resources to clients and their families.

When applying for a job in this field, you must be able to provide examples of the type of education you have provided to clients and how it is relevant to their case.

Let’s move on to #10 of the 12 Core Functions of Addiction Counselors…

10. Referral

Part of providing effective case management is identifying the areas where you can’t help your client and finding other services that can.

For example, if your client has bipolar disorder, been diagnosed with an eating disorder or diabetes, finding professionals to help meet their needs is critical to a successful recovery.

“The global criteria crucial to referral are as follows:

35. Identifying need(s) and problem(s) that the agency and counselor cannot meet.

36. Explain the rationale for the referral to the client.

37. Match client needs and problems to appropriate resources.

38. Adhere to applicable laws, regulations, and agency policies governing procedures protecting the client’s confidentiality.

39. Assist the client in utilizing available support systems and community resources. “


What this criterion means:

Your clients will have many unique needs, and you possibly cannot help them successfully navigate through all of them. 

In these situations, it’s up to you to figure out what they need and pass them off to the right service or providers that can help them.

Part of providing effective substance use treatment is identifying the areas where you can’t help your client and finding other services that can.

For example, suppose they need help with bipolar disorder or have been diagnosed with an eating disorder or diabetes. In that case, finding professionals to help meet their needs is critical to a successful recovery.

Referrals play an essential role in case management and treatment planning. They can help ensure clients receive the care they need before, during, and after treatment.

When performing the 12 Core Function -referral, it’s vital that you follow all laws, regulations, and policies that govern referrals.


A Free Guide to Addiction Counseling Credentialing

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Be the CHANGE we Need!

You’ve almost reached the end of the 12 Core Functions of Addiction Counselors. 

Let’s keep going to the 11th core function…

11. Reporting & Record Keeping

The eleventh core function allows you to put your administrative skills to use. Recording and charting the assessment and treatment results helps you establish working techniques and improve your ability to meet your client’s needs.

You’ll analyze relevant information, including assessments, treatment plans, court, parole, probation, ACS reports, progress notes, discharge summaries, and other client-related data. Maintaining organization and patient confidentiality is crucial in this line of work.

“The global criteria crucial to reporting and record-keeping are as follows:

40. Prepare reports and relevant records integrating available information to facilitate the continuum of care.

41. Chart the ongoing information about the client.

42. Utilize relevant information from written documents for client care.”


What this criterion means:

Documentation and record-keeping are essential for addiction counselors.

By documenting the client’s progress, the counselor can:

  • communicate more effectively with co-workers,
  • get feedback from the supervisor promptly, and
  • provide valuable information about other services that may benefit the client.

Maintaining professionalism is essential when providing this documentation.

Finally, the last core function of addiction counseling is…

12. Consultation With Other Professionals

The last core function acknowledges that addiction counselors often have to work with other professionals inside and outside their facility. Clinicians learn the skills and knowledge needed through education, training, and experience. However, there will be times when counselors encounter an issue beyond their skill set. When this happens, consulting with other professionals with more experience or knowledge in that area is crucial.

“The global criteria crucial to consultation with other professionals are as follows:

43. Recognize issues beyond the counselor’s knowledge and skill base.

44. Consult with appropriate resources to ensure effective treatment services.

45. Adhere to applicable laws, regulations, and agency policies governing the disclosure of client-identifying data.

46. Explain the rationale for the consultation to the client, if appropriate.”


What this criterion means:

Substance abuse counselor aims to ensure their clients receive high-quality, comprehensive care. Counselors need to be able to work with other professionals, both inside and outside their organization.

Consulting with other professionals might include knowing when to refer a client to another counselor with more expertise or understanding of when to ask for help from colleagues.

Recognizing when you need to consult with other professionals is crucial for any counselor.

Consultation is an integral part of the decision-making process. It allows stakeholders to come together and discuss the best course of action for a particular client or situation.

Effective consultations function best with the client’s entire treatment team. A group consultation or case conference considers different perspectives, which is a more comprehensive approach. As the primary counselor, you can make final decisions about client care however consulting with other professionals is more in the client’s best interest.

You made it. 

Counselors are an essential component of every treatment facility. 

The 12 core functions are the blueprint for effective substance use treatment. Learning the details of each is fundamental to your career.

In the coming weeks, we’ll discuss each of the 12 core functions of addiction counselors in depth.

Please share this post with a colleague or friend. 

Follow the 12 Core Functions blueprint for addiction counselor training and education, so you can help these young homeless youth, pictured here, transition into a life of purpose and happiness.

Earn your Certificate with our hybrid addiction counseling training.

Our program is 100% online in a hybrid environment. You will learn via self-paced learning incorporating all learning styles, such as videos, workbooks, other resources, and short assessments. Not only will you be working at your own pace, but you will also have virtual instructor-led training to strengthen counseling skills, help you to think critically and outside of the box, and to ask questions of our excellent staff. Our program design lets you move through the distance learning training own pace to achieve certification.

At Educational Enhancement CASAC Online, we can help you fulfill all the educational requirements needed to earn your addiction counseling certificate. This includes gaining a thorough understanding of the 12 Core Functions and everything else you might need to pass the IC&RC Alcohol and Drug Counselor exam. In other words, we’ve got you covered from start to finish!

You can complete our program in six months. The training is 100% online, with rolling admissions, so you can get started anytime. We offer a high-quality curriculum that instructors teach with real-world experience. Many of our instructors are still working in the addiction counseling industry so they can offer you the most up-to-date information and training.

Here at Educational Enhancement CASAC Online, we’re proud to offer addiction counseling courses that can help students earn their Certificate no matter which state they reside in. Our online courses are transferable to 47 states thanks to our membership with IC&RC and approval as an education provider in multiple states. Plus, our curriculum has received approval from IC&RC, OASAS-approved, and NAADAC-approved.

If you’re interested in getting started with our addiction counseling program, the first step is to click the Get Started button below. From there, you’ll be able to access our application and a quick contact form. If you have questions about our program or how to earn your addiction counseling certificate, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re always happy to help!

Why You Should Become a Substance Use Counselor

Why You Should Become a Substance Use Counselor

Substance use counselors are in demand. So if you’re you looking for a new and rewarding profession consider addiction counseling —a fulfilling career.

Substance use counselors help those struggling with addiction. Addiction is a disease that affects both the person who struggles with it and their loved ones.

If you are interested in working with individuals who have a severe dependency on drugs and substances, then choosing a career in addiction counseling may be a great option for you. Working in the field empowers you to work directly with individuals with substance use disorders.

Surprisingly, it is a great time to walk around this career, as The demand for qualified certified addiction counselors continues to rise. According to the US Bureau of Labor, job growth for substance use counselors is expected to grow 23 percent within the next 10 years, considerably much faster than the average for all professions.


Substance use counselor facilitating an addiction recovery group counseling session

What a Substance Use Counselor Does

Addiction counselors help people struggling with addictions, such as alcohol, prescription drugs, and illicit drugs like heroin. In order to assess their mental health, physical health, and readiness for change, they assist their clients through all phases of treatment. 

It is not an easy job to be a substance abuse counselor. You must have the emotional, mental, and professional strength to deal with complex and critical scenarios that are unique to each individual client. You must always remember each client’s struggle with addiction is unique to them. 

Stigma is when someone views another person in a negative way because of a mental health disorder or a substance use disorder. This can be from another person or from within the person themselves. You must be willing to establish rapport with each client. Many clients find it difficult to open up about their hardships. However, when addiction counselors build rapport and trust clients become forthcoming about their problems and hardships. Once the client-counselor relationship is established progress begins and the counselor can support clients on their road to recovery.

Addiction counselors must always strive to ‘do no harm’ while working in the field. This code of ethics guides how they interact with clients, co-workers, and the public. The first action all addiction professionals should strive towards is reducing the harm of a client’s substance use disorder. In substance use treatment, clinicians no longer demand complete abstinence from clients. Instead, they suggest strategies of harm reduction to keep clients in the earliest stages of recovery safe and healthy.

After building rapport and a harm reduction plan, substance use counselors begin to identify the root causes of addiction and develop a recovery treatment plan. A treatment plan establishes a list of goals the client feels will help them achieve the goals they seek.

People struggling with addiction often have an intense focus on using that substance, to the point where they can’t function in day-to-day life.

Substance use disorder is a serious condition in which someone’s life becomes impaired as a result of using substances. SAMHSA defines substance use disorder as “the recurrent use of alcohol and/or drugs causes clinically significant impairment, including health problems, disability, and failure to meet major responsibilities at work, school, or home.” People struggling with addiction often have an intense focus on using that substance, to the point where they can’t function in day-to-day life. They keep using it even when they know it’s causing problems in all areas of their lives.

The treatment plan will consist of changes a client chooses to make in many areas of their life such as:

  • substance use
  • medication management
  • physical health
  • mental health
  • social situations
  • family, significant others, peers
  • emotional needs
  • work, school, hobbies
  • probation, parole, or other criminals charges
  • readiness for change
  • and more

The substance use counselor will help clients find coping techniques to deal with triggers and urges, and small steps to take in order to achieve the goals found in the treatment plan. The ultimate aim is for the client to understand why certain situations or specific behaviors trigger the recurrence of use (relapse) or impede their recovery process.

Clinicians do not only interact with their clients. At times working closely with a client’s family and significant others repair the trust that was lost due to addiction. 

Addiction counselors also have to organize educational or informative group sessions which help clients and their families to learn more about addiction and substance use behaviors.  Most importantly when facilitating group recovery sessions clients relearn how to interact with others in social settings. Individual and Group therapy sessions include strategies to control destructive behavior or behavioral disorders.

Substance use counselor practicing an individual session with a client for her online CASAC training
Substance use counselor in a mock session for his addiction counseling certificate

Substance Use Counselor’s Requirements and Skills 


If you are looking for a career in substance use counseling you should know that each workday is different., challenging, and fulfilling. Even though you’re bound by a code of ethics and core concepts you’ll still allow being creative when suggesting steps your clients can take to achieve their recovery goals.

To become a substance abuse counselor, individuals will generally need to obtain a formal education, often in the form of a substance use counselor certification program. In the US each state’s addiction recovery governing board or licensing agency establishes the requirements needed to become a substance use counselor. For example, in NYS the governing board is OASAS and they require individuals to complete a 350-hour education and training certificate program. Educational Enhancement CASAC online offers the 350-hour education and training program in a self-directed online format. You can study when you want and where you want to. 

Along with the educational requirements, many states require a certain amount of work experience hours and a passing grade on the IC & RC certification exam.

Many people find that after completing a short internship (30-90 days) they begin receiving fair wages for their work. This is especially true if you are working for a substance use treatment program, which will receive weekly supervision and guidance so you can succeed in the addiction recovery field.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the qualities of substance use counselors

  • Active listening – a technique in which the therapist makes good eye contact with the client and pays attention to their verbal and nonverbal messages. This allows for a better understanding of what the client is saying.
  • Empathy – to understand your client’s perspective; and respect and hold this perspective in high regard.  in doing this client will feel understood and heard. Empathy along with compassion most often strengthens the counseling relationship
  • Compassion– showing them that you are truly concerned for their pain or distress and I want to soothe their suffering.
the dalai lama

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”
–Dalai Lama 

  • Patience – respect your clients and understand their limitations and boundaries. Expressing patience shows your willingness to trust the clinical process and suppress your feelings of eagerness or annoyance when change doesn’t manifest as fast as you like. Treating them while keeping those boundaries.
  • Open-mindedness – is a clinical quality that enables you to think critically and rationally from the perspective of your client. When you are open-minded you can step out of your comfort zone and consider the ideas of others instead of being judgmental and biased about your client’s ideas and situations. Open-mindedness allows you to recognize your judgments and bias toward situations so you can keep these attributes from sabotaging the clinical relationship.
  • Confidentiality– keeping clients’ private information confidential. Once you establish a therapeutic relationship it’s important to keep it safe. Confidentiality allows your clients to feel safe and protected than what they tell you during sessions remains within the room and protected by the rapport between the client and the counselor.
  • Authenticity – being genuine and honest with clients during the treatment process. In addiction counseling, it’s important to have a down-to-earth attitude, so clients feel they’re interacting with real people instead of an educated professional playing a role.

Don’t worry if you don’t think you have these qualities because each one can be cultivated and learned, so you can find a sense of purpose in helping others achieve freedom from their substance use disorder.


Let’s recap what we discussed in this blog post to stress the importance and need for substance use counselors.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth for substance abuse counselors will grow 23 percent in the next 10 years. This is considerably much faster than the average for all professions.  Successful substance use counselors are enthusiastic about guiding people struggling with addiction. Each day brings new situations, crises, and challenges to overcome, which provide fulfillment and satisfaction in your work.  When considering the idea of addiction counseling, you should know that you’ll cultivate both emotional and cognitive attributes to be effective.

Lastly, you will have to obtain an education and training certificate. Addiction counseling online training allows anyone to complete the program and make a schedule that fits their needs. You’ll never have to show up at a school or a webinar at a specific time. Instead, you’ll have the option to create your schedule for learning and studying. You can jump into training when you have a free-time at work or school, read assignments during your commute to work and on breaks, and never miss a meal with your family. 

Educational Enhancement CASAC Online empowers you to fit your substance use counseling study into your current schedule where you want to. It doesn’t matter if it’s late in the evening or 2:30 in the morning.  Educational is an OASAS-approved education and training provider (#0415.)

Once you finish your education and training, you’ll receive a certificate to submit to your licensing board you can start working in the field. You’ll be a credentialed addiction counseling professional once you have earned enough work experience hours and passed the IC &RC exam. In NYS, this certificate is referred to as a CASAC (Credentialed Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counselor)

So do you think you have what it takes to jump into a rewarding career as a substance use counselor?

Free guide to addiction counselor (CASAC) credentialing


A Free Guide to Addiction Counseling Credentialing

Your new career as an addiction counseling professional doesn’t have to be daunting.

Our FREE guide to the addiction counselor credentialing process is as easy as saying 1, 2, 3.

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Online addiction counseling training is an excellent option for people seeking to change their careers, stay-at-home moms, and many more addiction counseling career seekers. Educational Enhancement CASAC Online training provides the best education and training combination. Depending on how ambitious you are, you can finish the 350-hour program in as little as 4 months, but most students complete the program and start working in the field in 6 months.

If you know anyone who might benefit from reading this article, please forward them a link.  

The Top 5 Benefits of Online Study for Drug Counselor Certification 

The Top 5 Benefits of Online Study for Drug Counselor Certification 

A woman in front of a computer maximizing her benefits in online study of drug counselor certification
Millions of people are choosing to study online for a variety of reasons. Here are five of the top benefits of online study for addiction counseling certification and certification renewal.

Do you ever dread having to keep a commitment after a long day of trudging through life in your unfulfilling career? Do you feel you might have made the wrong career choice? Millions of people change their careers several times throughout their lifetime and so can you. But you fear that your job demands too much from how can you find time to study when you don’t even have the energy to spend time with your family after a long day of unfulfilling work.

If you’re reading this blog it’s safe to say that you’re in the market for a career change. One fulfilling career with an exponential growth rate is to pursue a career as a substance use disorder counselor.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the employment of substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors will grow by 23% from 2020 to 2030. This is much faster than the average for all occupations. It is estimated that around 41,000 openings for these types of counselors will become available each year on average over the next decade. A good number of these vacancies will be a result of workers transferring to other occupations or exiting the labor force.

However, there is still the issue of not having time to pursue the 350 hours of education to become a drug counselor, especially when your current career is sucking your will to live out of you.

This is the reality for many of us – our careers drain our life but making a career change seems too demanding. When will you find the time? Going to class after work seems exhaustive. Putting your family on hold causes guilt and further longing for change. Don’t worry you can still join the thousands of people who have found fulfillment by changing their careers with the help of online drug counselor education and training.

Keep reading to learn why online education removes many of the entry-level barriers blocking your path from pursuing a fulfilling career as an addictions counselor.

Let’s look at the five major benefits of online CASAC education and training.

*FTR:  If you need to renew your CASAC credential or any other addiction counseling credential these five benefits pertain to you, too!

Without further interruption let’s jump in.

The Top 5 Benefits of Online Study for Drug Counselor Certification


1. Flexibility and online education

“Because you get to set your schedule and study only when you have time, eLearning makes learning not something you have to get over with, but something you look forward to!”
Mark Hayes, Head of Marketing at Kintell


There are many benefits to online drug counselor education, including flexibility and accessibility. For example, students can learn at their own pace and from any location they choose.

One of the benefits of online education is its flexibility. Many students can study from home, which can be more comfortable. Additionally, online courses often allow for more individualized instruction. This means that students can receive help from a tutor or professor when needed, making the learning process more efficient.

When you study with Educational Enhancement CASAC Online, you never have to worry about traditional classroom or webinar-based learning such as:

  • interruptions people talking to one another,
  • disruptive classmates,
  • disinterested students who fidget and leave the room often
  • long-drawn our tangents (from students or facilitators), taking away from the material presented
  • presenters/facilitators/ instructors  drawn off-topic

2. Taking online classes is cost-effective

“Online learning is rapidly becoming one of the most cost-effective ways to educate the world’s rapidly expanding workforce.”
– Jack Messman, former CEO at Novel


In recent years, online courses have become increasingly popular among students worldwide. There are several reasons for this, but one of the most important is that online classes are often cost-effective, and many online courses are cheaper than traditional classroom programs. Online drug counseling educational courses do not have service fees, technology fees, student association fees than conventional academic institutions or classroom programs.  

Not having to get to the classroom by any specific time each day allows you to spend less time hustling around the city trying to get to school after work or waiting impatiently at home for the sitter to show up. Not to mention paying the sitter commuting costs (gas, parking, tolls, etc.). Having to hustle to a classroom after work can leave you feeling like you’re missing out on necessary family time. Alternatively, you may find yourself having to go to school or attend a webinar session that takes you away from home and family. In either case, you’re sacrificing quality family time.

Second, many online courses allow you to take multiple sessions, which means you can get more out of each one. Finally, online classes often have built-in grading systems, which means that you can get your credits in a shorter amount of time.

Additionally, online courses are often cost-effective since they do not require expensive equipment or facilities.

Many online schools offer scholarships and other financial assistance to make learning more affordable. For example, Educational Enhancement currently works with ACCESS VR in New York State to help students with full scholarships.

Free guide to addiction counselor (CASAC) credentialing

A Free Guide to Addiction Counseling Credentialing

Your new career as an addiction counseling professional doesn’t have to be daunting.

Our FREE guide to the addiction counselor credentialing process is as easy as saying 1, 2, 3.

Your FREE Guide comes with a subscription to our newsletter. (You are subscribing to email updates. Unsubscribe Any time.)

Be the CHANGE we Need!


3. Why self-directed CASAC online learning provides deeper learning and understanding

You can’t teach people everything they need to know, and the best you can do is position them where they can find what they need to know when they need to know it.” – Seymour Papert, MIT mathematician, educator, and computer scientist.


Self-directed CASAC online learning provides deeper learning and understanding because it allows students to work at their own pace and customize their learning experience. Drug counselor online learning will enable students to focus on the most important topics and allow them to explore the material in a more in-depth way.

Learning online allows you the right to review the material on an engaging platform as many times as you like. On the other hand, classroom or webinar-based learning gives you one shot to absorb everything said during a presentation. Unfortunately, getting distracted can easily cause you to miss important information during a presentation. The worse part is that you never know what is essential and what isn’t necessary to learn a new skill when following a career path. You can always log in and review previous sessions when studying drug counseling online.

Additionally, online learning programs provide support and encouragement through alternative online study groups, accountability partnerships, and several ways to reach instructors for further explanation and coaching.



4. The quality of 20 minutes of focussed online learning


“Where my reason, imagination, or interest was not engaged, I would not, or I could not learn.”
– Winston Churchill


There is no doubt that online learning offers many benefits for students, such as flexibility, convenience, and cost-effectiveness. However, one of the most significant benefits of online study is the quality of the learning experience. Online learning allows you to monitor and regulate your process of knowledge, and Online learning helps you create your pathway of learning. In short, Online education teaches you how to learn.

Online learning, when done right, engages you to push forward. You can sign in and log 20 minutes of focussed online learning anywhere and anytime, and you cannot do this when waiting to get into the classroom.

A study conducted by the University of South Wales found that students who undertook online learning scored higher on assessments than students who undertook face-to-face learning. This study suggests that online learning is convenient and cost-effective and provides high-quality learning opportunities.

Educational Enhancement CASAC Online provides links to academic journals, articles, and case studies to further your knowledge of essential addiction counseling issues and topics. Understanding addiction/ recovery academic literature published gives students a head start preparing for the IC & RC certification exam. Most certification exam writers scour academic literature when designing certification exams on academic literature. If you want to achieve the highest possible score on your certification exam, investing in quality online self-directed learning is essential.



5. Why completing 350 hours of self-directed online study opens more career opportunities

“When training is done well, doors open, skills development, and performance excellences yield personal and organizational rewards.”
-Michael Allen, Chairman & CEO, Allen Interactions



Completing an initial CASAC 350 clock hour education program online shows that you take your career focus seriously and search, find and implement solutions to overcome obstacles. Online drug counselor educational programs often have more rigorous coursework than traditional classroom-based programs, which can help you develop the critical thinking and problem-solving skills needed for a successful career as a drug counselor.

As you progress through a self-directed online learning system, you’ll develop positive attitudes and beliefs about yourself that increase your academic perseverance. And prompt you to engage in productive academic behaviors. Completing the Educational Enhancement’s CASAC 350- hour online program shows employers your level of commitment in seeing work through to completion, meeting your goals, and doing quality work.

Developing self-awareness is one of the most critical areas of development for any addiction counselor. Learning to study online forces you to take a look inside to learn how to apply yourself to the pursuit of your goals. Studying online forces you to understand your values and why you pursue learning. Learning online helps you become self-aware of how to apply the knowledge you are learning to your career as an addiction counselor, to engage values intimately, and what works best for you when it comes to self-improvement, self-care, and continuing education.

By completing 350 hours of self-directed online study, you can open up many career opportunities because you show employers your willingness and motivation to set goals and follow through without constant instruction.




“Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” 
– paraphrase of a Charles Marshall quote in Shattering the Glass Slipper


The future of education is online learning. This means that people will be learning through the internet using things like eLearning (learning through a computer), mobile learning (learning through a phone or tablet), and distance education (learning from a teacher who is not in the same room as you). People are using these technologies to access information and skills that they wouldn’t be able to get before. Leaders in different fields and leaders involved with substance abuse counseling education and training are starting to see the potential that online learning is the future.

This article covered five benefits to online study for drug counselor certification.

One benefit is that it is convenient for students. Many online programs allow for flexibility in when and where you study, which can help you fit learning around your busy schedule. Online study will enable students to look at their own pace and schedule. It also allows students to study from home, which can benefit those who have difficulty attending class in person.

Finally, the online study allows students to receive feedback, one-on-one instruction, coaching, and mentoring on their work, which helps you understand addiction and apply the information you obtained to make clinical-based decisions and improve skills and knowledge.

Educational Enhancement CASAC Online is an OASAS approved education and training provider. We look forward to serving all of your addiction counselor continuing education needs. Fire off a quick email to say hi, ask a question, or suggest any content you feel will help you succeed in the field as a substance use counseling professional. about what content you would like us to provide for you

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Free guide to addiction counselor (CASAC) credentialing

A Free Guide to Addiction Counseling Credentialing

Your new career as an addiction counseling professional doesn’t have to be daunting.

Our FREE guide to the addiction counselor credentialing process is as easy as saying 1, 2, 3.

Your FREE Guide comes with a subscription to our newsletter. (You are subscribing to email updates. Unsubscribe Any time.)

Be the CHANGE we Need!


Announcement: HRSA BHWET Grant Award Funded

Announcement: HRSA BHWET Grant Award Funded

John Makohen

John Makohen


John is Advanced CASAC in NYS,  CASAC Educator, and Digital Entrepreneur. Besides creating content and improving addiction counseling educational experiences he enjoys learning, running, and relaxing with his spouse.


HRSA BHWET Grant Awarded

September, 2021


We are proud to announce that Educational Enhancement was awarded one of 43 nationwide grants funded through the HRSA Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training (BHWET) Program for Paraprofessionals.

Press Release from  A.Maria Mendez, CEO of Felmari, Inc d/b/a Educational Enhancement. We are proud to announce that Educational Enhancement was awarded one of 43 national grants funded through the HRSA Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training (BHWET) Program for Paraprofessionals.  Educational Enhancement will apply the HRSA BHWET grant award to develop and expand community-based experiential training to increase the supply of students preparing to become behavioral health professionals such as a CASAC – Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselors throughout the five boroughs that are New York City over the next four year. Educational Enhancement is an addiction counselor certificate program Educational Enhancement is an OASAS-approved CASAC education and training provider (0415).

Man sitting on a sofa hitting the button to subscribe to educational enhancements CASC Online newletter

The BHWET grant award aims to increase the supply of behavioral health professionals while also improving the distribution of a quality behavioral health workforce, thereby increasing access to behavioral health services. A. Maria Mendez, CEO said,

We are honored to participate in the BHWET program. The award will allow us to expand and enhance access to high-quality education and training over the next four years.”

The 6-month didactic technology-based program will encourage, educate, and empower specifically trained new professionals to deliver quality counseling services to those at risk for developing a substance use disorder and other behavioral health challenges.

Educational Enhancements Online CASAC section 2 cultural competence and special populations training helps you embrace diversity in your addiction counseling.
ONLINE CASAC home study allows you to study no matter what your circumstances

Eligible students chosen for the BHWET grant program will receive an integrated approach of education and training geared towards obtaining CASAC credentials and addressing behavioral health prevention, treatment, and recovery services, including but not limited to Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) and Substance Use Disorder (SUD), for Transitional Age Youth (TAY), 16-24.  Along with tuition, training materials, technical assistance, payment for initial CASAC application, and fee for the CASAC exam, students will receive all the necessary tools needed to actualize the objective of the BHWET Program for Professionals.

Applicants for the BHWET grant program must meet the minimum set of academic standards and commit to serving their 90-day internship in the underserved geographic areas in NYCs five boroughs – Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Staten Island, and Queens. Our students will receive weekly supervision and coaching from the project director and the field placement supervisor. 

Get your CASAC online at Educational enhancement and become a certified addictions counselor to help teens struggling with addiction.

Join our email list to learn more about Educational Enhancement and the BHWET program. Those with questions and concerns about participating in the BHWET program should click here.

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