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Substance Use & Addictions Specialist Program

Substance use disorders pose a challenge to our state and the nation as a serious public health issue linked to poverty, violence, family stress, and a host of individual psychiatric concerns. The UNC School of Social Work offers the Substance Use & Addictions Specialist program that meets the educational requirements for the Licensed Clinical Addictions Specialist (LCAS) credential administered by the NC Substance Abuse Professional Practice Board (NCSAPPB). The LCAS is the required credential for providing substance use prevention and treatment services in the North Carolina public sector, and is quickly becoming the qualification of choice for managed care and insurance companies.
See application forms below.

Certificate Program in Substance Use & Addictions Specialty brochureThe Substance Use & Addictions Specialist program provides a research and practice-based course of study in Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drugs (ATOD) prevention, intervention, and treatment. The curriculum is grounded in social work philosophy and incorporates a biopsychosocial-spiritual framework that is strengths-based, culturally competent, and gender sensitive across the life span. The program is designed for MSW graduate students in good standing and community practitioners who hold MSW degrees from UNC Chapel Hill.

Upon completion of the program requirements, MSW students will graduate with a specialty in Substance Use & Addictions, and be eligible for reduced requirements for the LCAS after one year of post-graduate clinical practice. Practitioners completing this program will have fulfilled the LCAS requirement for 180 hours of substance use specific education and will be eligible to apply for the LCAS credential administered by the NCSAPPB.

Required Coursework

The School of Social Work has developed four courses and one workshop that meet the NCSAPPB requirement of 180 hours of substance abuse specific education for the LCAS credential:

  • SOWO 700    ATOD: Abuse & Dependence
    (introductory pre/co-requisite for the other courses)
  • SOWO 760    ATOD: Clinical Practice
  • SOWO 701    ATOD: Biomedical Basis
  • SOWO 761    ATOD: Diverse Populations
  • Field Placement: 2nd year field placement in the field of addictions with an approved Certified Clinical Supervisor.

Each course contains content on the 12 core functions and 12 core competencies of addictions counseling. The workshops covers specific information on ethics and HIV/AIDS. Courses are held in the evening during the fall, spring, and summer academic semesters.


MSW students at UNC-Chapel Hill register for these courses as part of their degree program and must complete the Application of Interest. For MSW students, each class earns three credit hours and will appear on their transcript.

Masters-level practitioners register for these courses through the School of Social Work’s Behavioral Health Springboard. Each class is equivalent to 45 contact hours of substance use specific continuing education credit. To receive credit, the course must be completed with an average of 70% or higher; no academic credit or formal grade is earned. Enrollment each year is limited to 20 students, with practitioners on a space available basis.

Practitioners wishing to enroll in the Substance Use & Addictions Specialty program should submit the Application of Interest. Although this application does not guarantee a seat in the courses, practitioners with an application on file will be given priority during registration. Course brochures will be mailed to practitioners approximately 6-8 weeks prior to the start date of each course. Registration will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

For more information:

Behavioral Health Springboard
UNC-Chapel Hill School of Social Work
325 Pittsboro Street, Suite 469
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3550

Contact: Erica Desiderio, MSW
Student Liaison
P: (919) 843-3018
F: (919) 962-6562

Michael McGuire, LCSW, LCAS,

Clinical Assistant Professor, Director
Substance Use & Addictions Specialty
(919) 962-4371

Completed application forms above must be accompanied by a $25.00 processing fee.

Program administration is provided by Behavioral Health Springboard at the School of Social Work at UNC-Chapel Hill.

This program is partially funded by the federal Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant Fund (CFDA #93.959) as a project of the NC Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities & Substance Abuse Services.