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Video of SPADA 2


Helping behavioral health and addiction professionals stand out.

The demand for addiction prevention and treatment professionals continues to grow. Western Michigan University has been preparing students for this important field for over 50 years. And today SPADA is stronger than ever.

The Specialty Program in Alcohol and Drug Abuse is a leader in the education of personnel in a variety of positions in addiction treatment. Our goal is to provide a pathway for SPADA graduates to obtain employment in a rewarding career helping others. Whether you wish to work directly with clients in recovery or in the prevention arena, our coursework will prepare you to effectively understand and address substance use. SPADA is also ideal for those who simply wish to learn a bit more about addiction to supplement their graduate studies. Many of our students are also concurrently enrolled in another program such as counseling, social work, occupational therapy, or psychology.

Two Graduate Certificates in Addiction Studies Available

WMU offers two SPADA graduate certificates, available in online and hybrid formats.

The Clinical Addiction Certificate is an 18-credit hour program, designed for those who already have a bachelor's degree and wish to pursue further education in the field. This certificate is a great option if you wish to obtain additional credentials with the State of Michigan. such as the Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC) credential.

The Addiction Specialization Certificate is a nine-credit hour program and designed for dual-enrolled graduate students, or for those returning for continuing education hours to apply toward other credentials with the State of Michigan such as the Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CAADC) credential.

Learn more

CADC and CAADC credentials

Work done in the program can be applied to the educational and field experience requirements for CADC and CAADC credentials. Refer to the Michigan Certification Board for Addiction Professionals for more information.

Want more info or wish to apply?

We would love an opportunity to tell you more about things going on in SPADA. Let us know how we can connect with you.


If you wish to apply, click here. We look forward to reviewing your application and speaking with you soon!

Jimmy D. Patton Scholarship

Jimmy Patton 


2023 Recipient 


Mr. Jimmy Patton was a graduate from the counseling program at Western Michigan University and one who dedicated his professional life to helping those with substance use disorders. 

The Patton Scholarship is awarded to a student who is in the Specialty Program in Alcohol and Drug Abuse (SPADA) and pursuing a career in the addiction field. 



Cat Baeza is seeking a Clinical Addiction Certificate in the Specialty Program in Alcohol and Drug Abuse. Cat will be the first recipient of the new Patton Scholarship. Congratulations Cat! We know you will honor Jimmy Patton’s legacy of compassion and service.

Why SPADA at Western Michigan University?

The SPADA program at WMU is the first university-based training clinic in Michigan to address the criminal justice population and those who use substances. Courses examine biological, psychological and sociological aspects of substance use, giving students a comprehensive perspective. 

You can utilize the knowledge and skills you acquire in the program to specialize in careers where substance use disorders demand attention -- like psychology, social work, public health, corrections, sociology, management or community education, just to name a few. This program focuses on aspects of service delivery -- continuum of care, prevention, assessment, treatment and clinical supervision. 

Where do SPADA grads work?

Completing the Specialty Program in Alcohol and Drug Abuse prepares you to specialize in a number of careers in both public and private sectors.

  • Private practice
  • Law enforcement agencies
  • Public health organizations
  • Employee assistance programs
  • Inpatient, residential and outpatient treatment programs
  • Local, state and federal substance abuse policy-making organizations
  • Public schools, colleges and universities
  • Churches