Drug Abuse Counselors
Schools and Education
|Recommended Degree Level||Certificate or Higher|
|Number of Jobs, 2012||80,130|
|Annual Job Growth Rate||4.3%|
|Job Openings per Year (est.)||4,170|
- Education requirements can range from a Master's degree to just a high school diploma.
- In many states a licensed drug abuse counselor needs a Master's degree in Addiction and Substance Abuse.
- Those with more college education have opportunities to provide more services to clients, including one-on-one counseling sessions.
- Those interested in this field should check their state's educational requirements before looking for schools for applicable programs.
The education programs focus on practice, theory, ethics and research methods of substance abuse counseling. Many of the programs include an internship or a capstone experience.
Many of those seeking a Master degree in Substance Abuse Counseling or Counseling have a bachelor's degree in psychology. Most Bachelor in Psychology degree programs include specializations; many of those interested in a counseling career select a clinical or health-related specialization.
What you study:
- Patient assessment
- Group counseling techniques
- Treatment planning
- Case management skills
- Crisis intervention
- Individual counseling
- Interviewing techniques
- Types of substance abuse
A short introduction into the work of Substance Abuse Counselors. Created for the US Dept. of Labor.
A Day in the Life
Substance abuse counselors need compassion and a strong desire to help people. One of the major challenges you'll deal with is controlling your emotions while dealing with clients. You'll likely experience emotional highs and lows.
You'll often be involved in crisis intervention. Crisis intervention demands a nonjudgmental, sympathetic attitude and a lot of support.
A large number of drug addicts need help in many areas of their lives. Drug abuse counselors refer clients to an array of other services which may provide them a solid platform to deal with their drug addition.
You may have to deal with homeless clients with mental illness. Substance abuse counselors also have to deal with their own sadness and frustration when clients slip back into strong drug abuse. Learning drug addict clients have died is obviously a difficult aspect of the job.
Substance abuse counselors often work with the family members of drug abusers. Some drug abuse counselors specialize in working with post-rehab clients, helping them obtain services. Drug abuse counselors sometimes work under the supervision of psychologists, physicians and social workers.
You may provide individual and/or group counseling. In group counseling sessions, you'll lead the group, guiding discussion and providing feedback and strategies for clients.
Certifications and Licensing
Drug abuse counselors in private practice need a license which typically requires a masters's degree along with two thousand to three thousand hours of supervise clinical experience. Drug abuse counselors are required to pass a state-recognized exam and complete continuing education requirements every year.
The license and certification requirements for drug abuse counselors not working in private practice varies by the state. For example, not every state requires a specific degree but many states require candidates to pass an exam.
Full-time versus part-time: Most substance abuse counselors work full-time. In some environments, such as inpatient facilities they might work nights or weekends.
Work location: Substance abuse counselors work in a wide array of setting such as mental health centers, probation or parole agencies, prisons, employed assistance programs, residential treatment centers, outpatient treatment centers. They also work in private practice, halfway houses, detox centers and juvenile detention facilities.
- The American Counseling Association (ACA) provides an array of resources. The website provides information in categories such as Professional Development, Online Learning and Ethics. The ACA offers resources to help students become a professional counselor. The American Counseling Association helps students with their personal and professional growth and also provides networking opportunities. The ACA Conference & Expo offers a variety of networking and educational offerings.
- The National Board For Certified Counselors provides important information about certifications, state licensure, exams and about its services. The website also provides study guides. The National Board For Certified Counselors provides information about the Examination for Master Addictions Counselors.
- The Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs provides important information about accreditation. The website also provides useful tips for selecting a graduate program and provides information about obtaining a license after graduation.
- Occupational Outlook Handbook The US Bureau of Labor Statistics handbook section titled "Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors" provides reference information and data about this career, including lists of activities, the workplace environment, job outlooks, and more.
- O*NET OnLine's summary provides a highly statistical look at substance abuse careers, covering many different aspects of the job including its knowledge, skills, abilities, interests, values, and so on.