Curriculum Guidelines

nasac_logo_color2.pngThe most important aspect of the program is the curriculum. Programs need to have a comprehensive curriculum that provides the most current information for the field and offers students the knowledge and skill base necessary to meet the current standards of competence in the addictions field. Programs must demonstrate through course descriptions, outlines, and syllabi that the course objectives and requirements provide a comprehensive curriculum. Programs will also complete the TAP 21 content grid establishing that the courses cover the required content.

The curriculum standards are divided into two parts: (A) Knowledge, Theory, and Skill Development; and (B) Field Practice, and Supervised Training.

Download the NASAC Manual to learn about the specifications for each of the four levels of academic training (Associates, Bachelors, Masters, and Doctoral) for each curriculum standard.

Download the Tap 21 Crosswalk (2017).

Knowledge, Theory, and Skill Development

Standard 1: History

The curriculum shall include the historical development of the overall field of addiction prevention and treatment.

The history of addictive disorders along with the contexts in which prevention and treatment evolved, provide a foundation for understanding the present conditions in the profession, and a framework for understanding future evolution. This includes the knowledge of how the profession developed from various non-professional experiences, how other disciplines succeeded or failed in dealing with addictive disorders, as well as the social and political forces that impacted upon service delivery.

Standard 2: Substance Related and Addictive Disorder Counseling Skills

The curriculum will train students to have the knowledge, theory, and skills to provide the core functions of substance related and addictive disorders counseling.

For students being prepared to become substance related and addictive disorders professionals, the curriculum should include, at all levels, the 8 Skill Groups as well as the competencies laid out in the Technical Assistance Publication (TAP) Series 21, produced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The state where a college/institution is located may have different standards of practice, some will use a certification system, and others will use a licensure system. Curricula that is not intended to prepare counselors for certification or licensure as a substance related and addictive disorders professional may utilize only the relevant skills for their program.

The TAP 21 eight Skills Groups are:

  •  Treatment Admission
  •  Clinical Assessment
  •  Ongoing Treatment Planning
  •  Counseling Services
  •  Documentation
  •  Case Management
  • Discharge and Continuing Care
  • Legal, Ethical and Professional Growth Issues

Standard 3: Pharmacology and Physiology

The curriculum shall provide knowledge, theory and skills concerning pharmacology and physiology.

Students in the field of addiction studies need to have an appropriate level of
understanding of pharmacology as it relates to the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual dynamics of the whole person.

Standard 4: Assessment

The curriculum shall include specific knowledge, theory and skills necessary to provide an assessment for substance related and addictive disorders.

Standard 5: Treatment Modalities

The curriculum shall provide knowledge, theory and skills related to various substance related and addictive disorders treatment modalities.

Document that knowledge of the treatment modalities accepted as the current levels of care are identified, described in philosophy and theory, so that appropriate treatment planning and referral can take place.

Standard 6: Information Management and Recording Keeping

The curriculum shall provide for knowledge, theory and skills in information management.

Standard 7: Interpersonal Communications

Learning experiences shall be provided for the student to develop his or her interpersonal skills.

a. The ability to create genuine and empathetic relationships with others is central to the addiction professional.
b. These skills are applicable to all levels of education, and a greater proficiency is expected at each progressively higher level.

Standard 8: Administrative and Supervisory

Graduate and Post-graduate training shall include knowledge, theory and skills to provide administrative and supervisory competency.

At the Masters and Doctoral levels, graduates are expected to have supervisory and administrative skills, while Associate and Bachelor level workers need to know how to work under supervision.

Please review the NASAC Manual for additional information.