Competencies in Addiction Recovery Support

Competencies in Addiction Recovery Support (CARES)

At a glance

What: Competencies in Addiction Recovery Support (CARES) is an online program that prepares professionals to become substance abuse counselors.

When: Start anytime. You can take up to 90 days to complete each domain, however it is possible to complete the full program in as little as three to six months.

Where: Online

How: Enroll in the content domains that interest you most or complete the entire program.

Cost: $2,500 for the full program or $500 per domain

CE Hours: Earn 60 CE hours per domain or 360 CE hours for the full program.

Questions: Contact Mary Thompson at

CARES logo

Become a substance abuse counselor in as little as three months

With the spread of the opioid epidemic, communities across the United States need substance abuse counselors more than ever. Enroll in CARES to gain the knowledge necessary to thrive in this field and meet your state’s educational requirements for the profession. The program is self-paced, allowing you to gain information at a manageable speed and pause to revisit challenging material. You can take up to 90 days to complete each domain, however it is possible to complete the full program in as little as three to six months.

The career outlook for certified substance abuse counselors is excellent. Demand for substance abuse counselors has grown in recent years, driven largely by coverage mandates for substance abuse treatment in Affordable Care Act (ACA)-compliant insurance policies. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects job growth in the substance abuse counseling field to grow 22 percent through 2024—much faster than the average for all occupations.

Make a difference

Opioid overdoses claim the lives of more than 130 people each day, and rates are on the rise in several parts of the country according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Addiction affects people from every background and age group, including parents, grandparents, and teenagers, many of whom become addicted to prescription painkillers. In addition to harming individuals, addiction places strain on families, schools, and communities.

Substance abuse counselors help people cope with this devastating disease and find their way to a place of hope and healing. CARES helps professionals develop competencies in several crucial areas of this work, including:

  • Assessment and Evaluation
  • Case Management
  • Client, Family, and Community Education
  • Counseling
  • Professional and Ethical Responsibilities
  • Treatment Planning

This self-paced program is ideally suited for:

  • Licensed mental health professionals such as clinical social workers, marriage and family therapists, and professional counselors who would like to become dually credentialed but don’t have the time to spend in face-to-face classroom courses
  • Human services professionals holding a bachelor’s degree in behavioral health (examples include social work, psychology, counseling psychology, nursing, or a related field) who want to increase their skills and scope of practice, and are interested in greater opportunity for career advancement and increased marketability
  • Students who have not yet completed a degree but are currently enrolled in a behavioral health program with at least 60 credits completed
  • Motivated, disciplined self-starters who can work independently
  • Busy professionals who don’t have time for a traditional face-to-face certificate program
  • Anyone who desires the prestige and value of a University of Wisconsin-Madison certificate

Prepare for success

CARES delivers evidence-based content about addiction treatment and helps you to find ways to apply your new knowledge to your work. As you develop the competencies you need to succeed in the addiction recovery field, you can meet your state’s educational requirements for substance abuse counselors.

The program is also an excellent way to prepare for the credentialing exams offered by the International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC) and the National Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC).

Most importantly, CARES equips you to save lives in your community and beyond. To enroll in the program, visit the registration page >

Save time, stretch your budget

Enrolling in the full CARES program saves you $500, and completing it gives you 360 continuing education (CE) hours. For many substance abuse counselors, the full program meets professional development requirements for more than two years.