Search Programs
Start Your Online College Search

2023 Best Online Substance Abuse Counseling Degrees in California

By OnlineU Staff Writers | Updated 9/28/2023

Our list below highlights online substance use counseling degrees in California at all available program levels. A limited number of California colleges and universities offer options for completing online degrees in addiction counseling and similar fields. However, those that do have programs at the certificate, undergraduate, and graduate degree levels, with some even helping students prepare for licensure. 

Earning a bachelor's degree in substance use counseling may be a good first step toward entering this field. Additionally, we have a list of the most affordable online substance use counseling programs as well for those who are on a budget.

Find an Online Degree:

Online Substance Abuse Counseling Degrees You May Be Interested In

National University

  • Locations: La Jolla
  • Annual Tuition: $13,320

With its hub in San Diego, National University (NU) is a private, nonprofit, Hispanic-serving institution with an online certificate program in substance use and addiction treatment:

  • The Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Systemic Treatment of Addictions is for graduate students at the master’s and doctoral levels who are interested in working with individuals and families affected by addiction. Students can complete this 12-quarter-credit program and four-week classes in less than a year. Courses include Addictions: Clinical Applications, Systemic Treatment of Co-occurring Disorders, and Trauma and Family Therapy. However, the curriculum doesn’t appear to prepare students for state licensure as addiction counselors.

NU uses Blackboard to deliver its online programming asynchronously to distance learners. Its online student resources include access to the library and bookstore, career services, tech support, academic coaching and tutoring, and student wellness services.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 100%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $8,610
  • Repayment Rate: 93%
  • Acceptance Rate: N/A
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 45%
  • Retention Rate: 100%
  • Recommend Rate: 47%
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Private)
  • Undergraduate Online: 4,801 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 7,159 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: 311 enrolled

Loma Linda University

  • Locations: Loma Linda
  • Annual Tuition: $31,058

Loma Linda University (LLU) is based in Southern California, and it is a small, suburban, faith-based institution. It’s also an Asian American, Native American Pacific Islander, and Hispanic-serving institution that practices Seventh-Day Adventist values and beliefs. It offers one online drug and alcohol counseling certificate program.

  • The Drug & Alcohol Counseling Certificate Online is a 13-quarter-credit program that is designed for full-time master’s- and doctoral-level professionals to complete in one year. It also helps prepare students for certification as Certified Addiction Specialists, Licensed Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselors, and Master Addiction Counselors. Courses in the curriculum include Wholeness and Health; Treatment Strategies - Substance Use Disorders; and Substance Use Disorders, Relationships, and Recovery. This online program also requires completing a 200-hour supervised clinical fieldwork experiences and practicums.

LLU delivers online asynchronous coursework via Canvas and synchronous practicum courses via Zoom. Online student resources at LLU include academic advising, disability services, emotional support/behavioral health services, library access, and tech support.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: N/A
  • Avg. Aid Package: N/A
  • Repayment Rate: 97%
  • Acceptance Rate: N/A
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: N/A
  • Retention Rate: N/A
  • Recommend Rate: 91%
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Private)
  • Undergraduate Online: 131 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 374 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: 3 enrolled
Find an Online Degree:

Overview of Substance Abuse Counseling Degrees in California

A recent study on substance use and misuse in California provides some interesting data. The resulting report indicates that 9% of Californians met the criteria for a diagnosis of substance use disorder in 2021, but only about 10% of them received treatment. 

Other key findings from the 2022 study include the following:

  • Although the rate of prescription opioid deaths fell 30% between 2011 and 2019, the death rate from fentanyl in 2019 was ten times what it was in 2015.
  • Between 2018 and 2020, the number of amphetamine-related emergency department visits increased by nearly 50%, and the number of non-heroin-related opioid emergency room visits more than doubled.

Despite these alarming statistics, government officials, policymakers, and other stakeholders in California are taking steps to address these issues. For example, some health insurance providers are now ensuring faster treatment for individuals who have been diagnosed with drug or alcohol dependence. 

The state has also dramatically increased the number of inpatient and residential care facilities where people suffering from addiction can receive treatment and counseling for substance abuse. Certified drug and alcohol counselors are needed to provide treatment in these facilities and through other agencies and institutions.

Note that California, like many other states, has moved away from using the term "substance abuse" to help minimize the stigma for people suffering from substance use disorder. However, because many schools still use this term, we incorporate both traditional and current terms on our website.

A bachelor's degree is a great foundation for a career in counseling. Discover your options for the best online substance abuse counseling programs, the most affordable online substance abuse counseling programs, and the best online counseling programs.

FAQs About Substance Use Counseling Degrees in California

What Can You Do With a Substance Use Counselor Degree in California?

Once you've earned an in-person or online substance abuse counseling degree, you'll find a range of career opportunities available to you in California. You could become an alcohol and drug use counselor, a health education specialist, or a community health worker, just to name a few possibilities. 

If you're interested in providing substance use counseling in California, you'll need to obtain one of the four levels of substance abuse certification for alcohol and drug use counselors. Each level requires progressively more education and supervised clinical experience. You can qualify for any one of the first three levels with just a behavioral health bachelor's degree, but you'll need a master's degree to qualify for the highest level.

How Much Does a Substance Use Counselor Make in California?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), California substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health therapists as a group earn a mean annual salary of $64,460. In 2021, the BLS recorded 36,100 professionals working in the state. Demand for these types of therapists is expected to grow by 17.3% from 2020 to 2030.

How Do I Become a Substance Use Counselor in California?

In California, there are several possible paths to becoming a substance use counselor. If you're planning to become an alcohol and drug use counselor in this state, you'll want to contact one of the three accredited organizations that are currently recognized by the state's Department of Health Care Services to determine all of the specific requirements for each type of certification. The three organizations that offer certification are:

Through any one of these agencies, you can become a certified drug and alcohol counselor. With an online bachelor's degree in substance abuse counseling, you may qualify for three of the four main levels of counselor certification: Certified Alcohol Drug Counselor Associate (CADCA), Certified Alcohol Drug Counselor I (CADC-I), and Certified Alcohol Drug Counselor II (CADC-II). 

To obtain the highest level of certification, which is the Licensed Advanced Alcohol Drug Counselor (LAADC), you'll need a master's degree in the field of behavioral science. Master's in substance abuse counseling programs are available online, and there are affordable master's programs in substance abuse counseling for those who are looking for ways to minimize expenses.

The other requirements for substance abuse counseling certification vary depending on the level and the agency you're working with. However, in general, you'll need to complete a practicum and accrue a certain number of hours of supervised documented work experience. You'll then need to pass the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC) substance use counseling exam. Finally, you'll need to complete and submit your application for certification.

Does California Have Reciprocity for Substance Use Counselors?

Substance abuse counselors from other states may be able to work in California, depending on their education and current certification. If you'd like to be licensed to provide in-person or online substance abuse counseling in the Golden State, contact the California Department of Health Care Services to see if your credentials will be accepted under California requirements.

Related Articles

2023 Best Online Substance Abuse Counseling Degrees in Colorado

Discover the range of online substance use counseling degree programs available in Colorado for 2023, spanning various program levels.

By OnlineU Staff Writers | 9/28/2023

2023 Best Online Substance Abuse Counseling Degrees in Arkansas

Discover the range of online substance use counseling degree programs available in [state] for 2023, spanning various program levels.

By OnlineU Staff Writers | 9/27/2023

2023 Best Online Substance Abuse Counseling Degrees in Arizona

Discover the range of online substance use counseling degree programs available in Arizona for 2023, spanning various program levels.

By OnlineU Staff Writers | 9/26/2023


Start Your Online College Search:

Review schools that align with your career aspirations.