Addiction Studies

By Aedín Dunne - Last update

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Are you compassionate? Are you understanding and empathetic towards others? If you answered yes and also consider yourself to be a helpful person who wants to make a difference in peoples’ lives then this is an area that might suit you. 

Addiction Studies is an important subject as it gives us an understanding of what addiction is, how it comes about and the different factors that influence it. There are a few courses on offer so have a look and see if its a subject that interests you.

What is addiction studies?

Addiction Studies explore addictions from both an academic and a scientific perspective including applying subjects such as sociology, culture, psychology, anthropology and psychoanalysis. 

What third level courses are available?

Universities and colleges in Ireland offer courses in the following subject areas:

  • Community and Addiction Studies
  • Counselling and Psychotherapy with Addiction Studies
  • Counselling and Addiction Studies (Level 8 Add on)
  • Counselling Skills and Addiction Studies (Direct Entry, Level 7)
  • Social Studies including Criminology and Addiction Studies (PLC, Level 5)
  • Youth Work and Addiction Studies (PLC, Level 5)

Studying Addiction Studies in college

There are a number of courses, both undergraduate courses and PLC courses, in the area of Addiction Studies. All the courses are paired with another subject, such as seen in the examples above, including Community, Counselling, Psychotherapy and Youth Work. Therefore, the exact content covered in each course will differ depending on the course title. 

PLC courses will generally be 1 year while undergraduate courses available are 4 years. The first year of your course will focus on helping you to gain an understanding and foundation of addiction from different points of view such as a sociological perspective or psychological perspective. 

In your second year and third year you will focus on content that is a bit more in depth and possibly look at areas such as personal development, social and cultural issues of addiction as well as prepare for work placement to help you gain experience in the field and apply your theory through practice. 

If you choose the route of an undergraduate degree, you will normally have to do a research project known as a dissertation or thesis which will involve you looking into a particular area of your interest within addiction studies and carry out a lot of research in the area. 

All programmes will provide the opportunity for students to gain the relevant skills, knowledge and experience to be prepared to work with in communities and with those who face addiction in their everyday lives. 

Career Options

There are a few different routes you could take in this area. The majority of those who study Addiction Studies will go on to work in communities, in community centres and with individuals and their families who have fallen victim to addiction. 

Should you study a PLC course related to Addiction Studies you may use that as a stepping stone to take an undergraduate course. 

In an area such as this, many go on to postgraduate level to specialise in a particular area such as working their way to being a psychologist or a counsellor, for example. There are a few different routes you could break into from an undergraduate course. 

Important skills and traits to have while working in this area include excellent communication skills, interpersonal skills, the ability to work well with other kind, empathetic, understanding, open minded, non judgemental and the want to help others. You will also need to be a problem solver and 

Related Jobs

  • Counsellor
  • Psychotherapist
  • Nurse
  • Community worker
  • Social worker
  • Youth worker

Further Study

Visit for more information.


Different courses and different colleges will have different entry requirements. It’s always safest to check with the individual higher education institution which is available on their websites. As a general rule Leaving Cert students should have a minimum of six subjects which should

include: Two H5 (Higher Level) grades and Four O6 (Ordinary Level) grades or four H7 (Higher Level) grades. Subjects must include Mathematics, Irish or another language, and English. 

PLC courses will accept Leaving Certificate results. Specific courses may have their own requirements. For example, some courses may have a certain interview process or expect a portfolio of sorts so it is always important to look into these things in depth. 

The highest CAO points needed for Addiction Studies last year were 301 points to study Counselling and Psychotherapy with Addiction Studies. Community and Addiction Studies was the other relevant programme offered and required 235 points. 

Where can I study?

For other courses in the area you would like to explore, you can do so here.

Did you know?

  • There are two types of addiction – behavioural and chemical
  • It is believed that addiction is mainly caused by psychological, social and biological factors.
  • Social media and video games are addictions seen among many teenagers.


Aedín Dunne

Construction Project Management


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