Counselor Education 686

COED 686: Overview of Substance Abuse and Addictive Disorders

Prerequisites: COED 610 and COED 611

Credit Hours: (3)

COED 686 is intended to provide an overview of the strategies, goals, methodologies, programs, and types of knowledge and skills necessary for effective identification and treatment of substance abuse.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

This course is designed primarily for college counselors, school counselors and counselors working in community mental health and substance abuse programs. Course content is also applicable to other helping professionals who work with adolescents and adults in Virginia settings. Students will learn:

1. History and working definition of substance abuse
2. Drugs and their effects

  • physiological functioning
  • psychological characteristics
  • sociocultural environment

3. Assessment and diagnosis of substance abuse disorders
4. Counseling individual substance abusers

  • general counseling techniques and skills
  • behavioral techniques
  • developing an effective treatment plan
  • self-help support groups

5. Family and group counseling

  • effects on the family system
  • children of alcoholics

6. Multicultural issues in the treatment, implementation and evaluation of substance abuse.
7. Relapse and relapse prevention
8. Preventing substance abuse

  • developing effective prevention programs

9. Program planning and evaluation
10. Current research on substance abuse


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

COED 686 is taught primarily in a lecture-discussion format; however each student will be expected to make five on-site field visits at an outpatient substance abuse program, inpatient substance abuse program, interview a substance abuse counselor, attend an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meeting, Al-Anon or COA meeting, or other self-help support group meeting.


Goals and Objective of the Course

Objectives of the course include:

1. Knowing and understanding the role and function of a substance abuse counselor.
2. Understanding the basic model for counseling substance abusers and their families including theories, treatment strategies and research.
3. Learning how to conduct a substance abuse assessment and develop a working diagnosis.
4. Through various field visits and interviews, obtaining a conceptualization of how substance abuse treatment can be either effective or ineffective.
5. Visiting and critiquing self-help groups such as AA, NA, COA, Al-Anon, etc.
6. Knowing about substance abuse and special populations including but not limited to adolescents, elderly, women, different cultural/ethnic groups, etc.
7. Understanding and analyzing the controversies in the substance abuse field by examining historical and current research.
8. Knowing and understanding substance abuse program planning, prevention, management and evaluation of both inpatient and outpatient treatment centers.


Assessment Measures

  • Class attendance and participation. Students will be assessed based on their active involvement and contributions to in-class discussions and debates.
  • Examinations. Students will have two exams, one at mid-term and the second as a comprehensive final exam covering the theory, research, controversies and application of substance abuse counseling.
  • On-site field visits. Each student will participate in five field visits and write a summary of their impressions from both a counseling and personal perspective.
  • Class project. Each student will research and report their findings to the class on a controversial topic in the substance abuse field.


Other Course Information

(1) Outside readings will be assigned throughout the semester.
(2) Guest speakers with an expertise in a specific area of substance abuse will be invited to address the class.


Review and Approval
April 1999 Revised