Prescription meds and alcohol with "help" representing addictions counseling

As drug abuse continues to climb, our state and country need trained counselors to help those who are suffering from addiction and related problems that go hand in hand with addiction.

This program will prepare you to be a licensed addictions counselor (LPC). Addiction counselors are professionals that work with children, teens, and adults suffering from drug abuse problems and other addictions. Together with the client, they identify the addiction, point out the associated behaviors and implement a plan of recovery. With the client, they work on the problems that drug abuse causes and confront emotional and behavioral problems that exist. Addiction counselors treat the addiction at its core and track the progress that the client makes along the recovery journey. Addiction counselors keep the client and the family of the client up to date on treatment information, drug information, and the progress being made. It is their job to educate people about drugs, drug treatment and life after treatment. If necessary, they also arrange treatment at facilities that offer mental health counseling, healthcare, and other coordinated services. The main focus of an addiction counselor is the client’s recovery.

The Opioid Crisis

Every day, more than 130 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids. The misuse of and addiction to opioids—including prescription pain relievers, heroin, and synthetic opioids such as fentanyl—is a serious national crisis that affects public health as well as social and economic welfare. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the total “economic burden” of prescription opioid misuse alone in the United States is $78.5 billion a year, including the costs of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement.

Approximately 10% of all people, regardless of culture, will experience a substance use disorder at some point in their life. In the United States, approximately 2.1 million have an opioid use disorder. Closer to home, Tennessee continually ranks in the top 5 U.S. States in terms of substance abuse rates. One of the causes of addiction is emotional trauma, especially childhood trauma.  Approximately half of those people will go without treatment.

Drug overdose deaths continue to increase in the United States:

  • Roughly 21 to 29 percent of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them.
  • Between 8 and 12 percent develop an opioid use disorder.
  • An estimated 4 to 6 percent who misuse prescription opioids transition to heroin.
  • About 80 percent of people who use heroin first misused prescription opioids.
  • Opioid overdoses increased 30 percent from July 2016 through September 2017 in 52 areas in 45 states.
  • The Midwestern region saw opioid overdoses increase 70 percent from July 2016 through September 2017.
  • Opioid overdoses in large cities increase by 54 percent in 16 states.
In-Demand Profession

These statistics indicate that there is a growing need for substance abuse and other counselors.  The U.S. Department of Labor expects the demand for Substance Use Disorders/Addiction Counselors to grow by 22% by 2024.

Most addiction professionals are employed in the following industries: outpatient care centers; mental health and substance abuse facilities; individual and family services; local government; general medical and surgical hospitals; psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals; and private practice. Many other addiction professionals work in prisons, probation or parole agencies, juvenile detention facilities, halfway houses, detox centers and employee assistance programs.


The addictions subspecialty is a two-year (six semesters), 60 credit hour curriculum that prepares graduates to pursue licensure as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) with a subspecialty in addictions counseling. Courses are offered on the Milligan campus, with some hybrid (online and on-campus). Courses include those needed for a broad understanding of mental health counseling (42 credit hours in human behavior and development, evidence-based practice, effective counseling strategies, ethical practice, and other core knowledge areas), as well as six courses (18 hours) necessary to equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary to address a wide range of issues in the context of addiction counseling. Because Milligan is a Christian university, part of the required coursework includes an ongoing discussion and examination of the theoretical and practical aspects of the integration of faith and learning.

Click here to view the curriculum »

Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC)

After completing the Master of Science in Counseling degree and completing a minimum of two years (at least 10 hours a week) of supervised professional experience, graduates are eligible to sit for licensure in Tennessee as a Licensed Professional Counselor. Reciprocity agreements may allow TN licensure to apply in other states. Graduates are also eligible to sit for licensure in Kentucky, North Carolina, and Virginia. A determination of eligibility has not been made for other states. Students should check specific state requirements before applying to the program. 
Read more about Licensed Professional Counselors »

Graduates are also prepared to do the post-masters supervised hours to be a licensed alcohol and drug addictions counselor in the state of Tennessee; eligibility for licensure in other states has not been determined. Graduates of our program will receive the documentation to show they have completed the necessary didactic training and educational competencies per the LADAC master-level requirement.

Add-On for Current LPCs

Current licensed clinical mental health counselors can add on the addictions subspecialty in as few as two semesters if currently working in the addictions field. Request more info »


Milligan’s addictions counseling program enjoys support from some of our state’s leading healthcare organizations including Ballad Health and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee, whose lead gifts provided the start-up funding for the program.

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