Rehabilitation and Human Services
Substance Abuse Program
The fact is*…
- Greater than 75 million people worldwide have some form of alcohol disorder.
- At least 15 million people have a diagnosable disorder related to drug use other than alcohol.
- In the U.S., nearly 16 million people have a substance use disorder.
- In 2001, nearly 6 million children lived with in households in which one or more persons was dependent on alcohol or other illicit drugs.
- The frequency of delinquent behaviors among youths significantly increases with marijuana use.
- For every dollar invested in drug treatment, seven dollars are saved in health and social costs.
Throughout our evolutionary past, our bodies have developed the capacity to automatically respond to certain needs to maintain a physiological equilibrium, or homeostasis. In addition to homeostatic mechanisms, we are also born with reflexes that facilitate survival such as when we withdraw from a painful stimulus. Although both homeostatic mechanisms and reflexes are clearly related to survival, our continued existence would be limited if we had to rely on them exclusively to meet all our needs. Rather, survival requires that we also satisfy our needs for such basic things as food, water, and sleep, and to do so, we must learn to interact with the environment. In other words, survival depends on learning which environmental objects can be used to satisfy our needs. It is the learning process that allows people to interact with the environment in a way that allows for the satisfaction of basic needs that cannot be satisfied by homeostatic or reflex actions alone.
Very early in our evolutionary history, people began to identify and use various mood altering substances. For example, as early as the 4th century BC people learned to associate use of chemical derivatives found in the hemp plant, now known as cannabinoids, with pleasurable mood altering experiences. Other substances, such as opium, cocaine, tobacco, lysergic acid, and alcohol; have also been used in many societies for their mood altering properties. At first, individuals might only experiment with certain substances or use them recreationally in certain situations. Many of these people may never experience overtly negative consequences associated with their use.
For others however, the subjective feelings of euphoria and relaxation associated with drug use can become one way of meeting certain basic needs. In such cases, the repetitious use of substances can result in certain psychological and physiological changes that can quickly develop into the chronic, progressive, and often fatal condition known as chemical dependency. Those who cope with problems though drug use may never learn how to work through problems or meet their needs in a constructive, healthy way. Not only do the original problems remain, but the person must also address new problems associated with their drug use. In fact, the process can resemble a vicious circle that may significantly diminish individuals’ sense of self-worth, security, and well being.
Substance Abuse Counseling Program
UND’s Substance Abuse Counseling emphasis provides students with the training they need to become competent and successful licensed addictions counselors. Undergraduate students enrolled in the Rehabilitation and Human Services program who specialize in substance abuse counseling are eligible to obtain licensure upon graduation and passing the North Dakota Board of Addiction Counseling Examiners (NDBACD) examination. Graduate students enrolled in Counseling Psychology and Community Services who specialize in substance abuse are also eligible to sit for the NDBACD exam. Both programs emphasize the application of theory to practice within a scientist-practitioner framework. Additionally, students have the opportunity to collaborate with faculty in designing and carrying out research studies that examine factors related to addiction counseling best practices and other areas within addictions.
The field of addiction counseling continues to grow at a rapid pace both locally and nationally. Consequently, licensed addiction counselors are currently in very high demand across the nation. Employment opportunities for graduates of the UND substance abuse counseling emphasis occur in a variety of contexts and range from clinical, administrative, supervisory, and applied research. If you would like additional information regarding the field of addictions counseling or about how to begin your studies in addictions at UND, please contact us.
Kara Wettersten, Ph.D.
Department of Counseling Psychology & Community Services
University of North Dakota
Education Building Room 304
Grand Forks, ND 58202-7116
For information about UND admissions, please contact:
Office of Enrollment Services
- SAMHSA Addiction Technology Transfer Center (ATTC)
- State by State Certification and Licensure Requirements for Chemical Dependency Counselors
- NAADAC: Code of Ethics
- Alcohol and Substance Abuse Summit (sponsored by North Dakota Department of Human Services, coordinated by UND)
*Facts presented according to WHO and SAMHSA.