Middle aged bearded man talking and supporting desperate people during support group meeting

(ROSENBERG, Texas) – Connie Schaaf, statewide department chair for the Chemical Dependency Counseling program at Texas State Technical College, has found that nearly everyone she has ever met has been or knows someone who has been affected by substance abuse.

Schaaf said substance abuse affects not only the person who is struggling with it, but also their family.

“If this program can change the life of just one person, then it’s changed the generations thereafter as well,” she said.

There are many career pathways for students of the program to take upon graduation. While working with prison inmates or in Alcoholics Anonymous meetings are options, there are also other ways to use the degree or certification. Counseling adolescents, affected families of substance abusers, or veterans, or even setting up a private practice, are all worthy career endeavors.

Graduates of the program have gone on to work for the Salvation Army, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and the Texas Juvenile Justice Department. Other job possibilities include those at hospitals, educational institutions and nonprofit organizations.

As someone who has worked in and around the industry since 2007, Schaaf has seen how practices and methods have evolved over time. Since joining TSTC as an instructor of the program in 2022, she has worked to update the program to reflect those changes.

“Updating the program has been a labor of love,” she said. “The instructors are phenomenal, and we’ve worked together as a team to work toward updating all of the literature, books and modalities. We’re about to be a brand-new program here pretty soon.”

Schaaf urges those who want to make a difference in someone’s life to consider the program.

“This career is about breaking generational curses,” she said. “It changes lives not just right now, but for their kids, grandkids and their kids, and so on.”


TSTC offers Chemical Dependency Counseling as an online program. An Associate of Applied Science degree and certificates of completion are available.

Registration for TSTC’s fall semester is underway. For more information, visit tstc.edu.

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