Author: Alex Thompson

Substance Abuse Counseling: Definitions, Requirements and Finding a Counselor

substance abuse counseling

Substance abuse counselors are required to be licensed to practice legally. This is a great opportunity to gain hands-on experience and observe experienced professionals within the field. It’s also an opportunity to learn more about a more specific career path. SAMHSA’s updated Overdose Prevention and Response Toolkit provides guidance to a wide range of individuals on preventing and responding to an overdose. The toolkit also emphasizes that harm reduction and access to treatment are essential aspects of overdose prevention.

An example of this is leading 12-step group counseling programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous. Job requirements for substance abuse counselors vary by state and specialty. Substance abuse counselors typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in substance abuse counseling or a related field. One survey found that 71% of professionals employed in the addictions workforce held a bachelor’s degree or higher.

substance abuse counseling

In an opioid overdose, a medicine called naloxone can be given by emergency responders, or in some states, by anyone who witnesses an overdose. MM employs a behavioral modification while also teaching self-esteem, dignity, and self-worth. Those in private practice have more control over case management and treatment. These are the types of degrees required for admission to a Masters-level program. Requirements vary from state to state, so make sure you know what is required in your state.

The private nature of these sessions allows the patient to address topics that are private in nature and which they may not want to openly discuss in a group setting. It is during individual counseling that patients will receive the one-on-one support that they need to work through their problems and learn how to prevent relapse. For diagnosis of a substance use disorder, most mental health professionals use criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association. It also assists with reducing cravings, avoiding situations, and learning healthy coping skills.

Family Behavior Therapy

Nanci Stockwell of Advanced Recovery Systems talks about the types of therapy used during addiction treatment. Many, though not all, self-help support groups use the 12-step model first developed by Alcoholics Anonymous. Self-help support groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous, help people who are addicted to drugs. The therapy used varies based on whether the counselor is part of a clinic or works in private practice.

  1. Addiction counselors may also work with specific populations, like teenagers, veterans or people with disabilities.
  2. These therapists help people with behavioral disorders (primarily substance use) by talking through the complexities and causes of their addiction.
  3. However, just because someone has strong credentials doesn’t mean they’re a good fit.
  4. Though it is possible to work without it, most counselors have at least a bachelor’s degree.

It’s okay not to make a decision right after meeting with just one counselor. Some people have to meet with two or three before finding their choice. Though some people will want to know methods in detail, others just want to know if they like a counselor. However, just because someone has strong credentials doesn’t mean they’re a good fit.

Earn a Master’s Counseling Degree

Counseling, in the form of both individual and group sessions, will make up the foundation for treatment of a substance use disorder such as alcoholism or drug addiction. The complexity of addiction, characterized by intense, uncontrollable cravings, persistent consequences and a nagging desire to quit, affects every aspect of a user’s life. As such, substance abuse counseling is often the focus when it comes to providing supportive care for optimal recovery. Substance abuse counselors work with individuals and groups to provide counseling, education, and support to those struggling with substance use disorders.

Professionals in private practice must be licensed by the state where they work. Substance abuse counselors may also utilize an approach known as motivational interviewing to help people with addictions find the motivation to make changes in their lives. Using this strategy, counselors offer empathy and support while encouraging clients to see the discrepancy between where they are now and where they want to be. Even after you’ve completed initial treatment, ongoing treatment and support can help prevent a relapse. Follow-up care can include periodic appointments with your counselor, continuing in a self-help program or attending a regular group session.

They also use CBT to teach new coping skills that help people find new ways to deal with cravings, relapses, and stress. An addiction counselor (substance abuse counselor) provides expert care and support to people who have substance use disorder (SUD), like alcohol use disorder or opioid use disorder. Although there’s no cure for drug addiction, treatment options can help you overcome an addiction and stay drug-free. Your treatment depends on the drug used and any related medical or mental health disorders you may have.

There are a variety of behavioral health therapies for dealing with co-occurring disorders. Many counselors are former addicts themselves, although this is not a requirement. A good addiction counselor can help create a safe environment for the user to communicate openly. Addiction professionals talk to patients throughout treatment and help them understand and manage their disorders.

Addiction Counselor (formerly known as Substance Abuse Counselor)

It was originally developed to address borderline personality disorder. CM treats several types of substance use disorders and encourages and reinforces sobriety. It uses positive reinforcement such as monetary prizes to reward good behavior. The median annual salary for substance abuse counselors was $48,520 in May 2021. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the lowest 10% of wage earners make less than $30,870, while the highest 10% earn more than $77,980.

This is crucial – without understanding the underlying issues, long-term recovery is more challenging. Once someone is working in the field, the next step to further their education is to earn a doctorate. Counselors must also complete continuing education courses annually and pass a state-issued exam. Bachelor’s degrees are increasingly expected for entry-level positions.5, 7 Beyond entry-level, advanced degrees are often required. They also evaluate the effectiveness of that plan, monitor progress, and look for signs of relapse. By Kendra Cherry, MSEdKendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the “Everything Psychology Book.”

SAMHSA’s 2023-2026 Data Strategy

Their goal is to uncover the cause of addiction and help patients learn coping strategies. You’ll at least need a bachelor’s degree to practice addiction counseling. Many states require you to have a master’s degree for addiction counseling licensure and certification.

All of these qualities play a role in developing what is known as the therapeutic relationship or the working alliance between a mental health professional and a client. This relationship, which involves a bond of respect, trust, and mutual collaboration, can play an important part in successful substance use disorder treatment. Professionals who work in substance abuse counseling also work to educate people about the effects and risks of drug and alcohol misuse. Licensed addiction counselors are experts at understanding the underlying causes of addiction. They use several techniques to help address the many factors that contribute to and reinforce substance use disorder. If you’re seeking substance abuse counseling services or want to find out more about treatment at The Recovery Village, help is available.