Overview of NASAC
NASAC is an academic accreditation organization for higher education addiction studies programs. Accreditation is a process to grant approval based on a set of credentials being met and maintained. The accreditation process is a nongovernmental but may be recognized by governmental entities. NASAC uses a self regulating process carried out by peer evaluators from similar types of institutions and programs. NASAC accreditation is specialized and not institutional; it is designed for faculty members in addiction counselor higher education programs as a guide to prepare for accreditation. Institutional accreditation is awarded by regional accrediting commissions that review the entire university or college. Specialized accreditation, such as NASAC accreditation, is awarded to professional programs that are within the jurisdiction of the university or college.
The Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) have encouraged the two primary groups representing academic educators and counselors to create a single higher education addiction studies accreditation body to assess academic programs in addiction studies at regionally accredited institutions of higher education. Workshop and continuing education programs are not included in this accreditation process.
The International Coalition for Addiction Studies Education (INCASE) and NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals joined their higher education approval programs to provide a single standard for higher education addiction studies programs, now known as The National Addiction Studies Accreditation Commission (NASAC). The new process is specific to the addiction education programs and focuses on developing competent, knowledgeable, and evidence-based practices as laid out by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). NASAC is the only accrediting organization that represents addiction-focused Major and Minor programs, Educators, and Practitioners at the Associate, Bachelors, Masters, Masters, Post-Grad, and Doctoral levels.
Addiction Science has now achieved a body of knowledge that allows for Addiction Studies to be both an independent profession; as well as a subspecialty for traditional mental health disciplines.
In organizing a program approval process for higher education addiction studies curricula, NASAC promotes the following goals:
- Assuring quality through the clear communication of program standards.
- Developing portable and transferable matriculated certificates, degrees, and networks.
- Providing a resource for the creation, expansion and upgrading of addictions curricula.
- Creating a bridge from classroom methodology to professional practice in order to prepare students to be professionally trained, employable professionals in the addictions workforce.
- Establishing self-governance of addiction studies curricula within higher education.
- Supporting addiction studies educators to advocate for their existence and needs within their institutional environment.
- Aiding students to in move forward in their education and career by providing legitimacy and a single standard to the curricula and academic programs that they have completed.
- Building a network of academic programs addressing workforce issues and trends and ensuring that curricula serve the needs of various subsets within the addiction field. These include, but may not be limited to: prevention, treatment, recovery support, administration, and research.
- Evaluating areas addressed in the program approval process that will include at least the following:
- Mission, goals and objectives
- Instructional modalities and resources
- Qualifications of faculty
- Community support and articulation
- Progress of students and graduates admission and guidance