Author: Alex Thompson

What Is a Substance Abuse Counselor? What They Do

what do addiction counselors do

Find information about salary ranges and earning potential for substance abuse counselors. It was originally developed to address borderline personality disorder. 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.

what do addiction counselors do

Both inpatient and outpatient treatment programs rely heavily on the use of addiction counseling and these take place in individual or group formats. Addiction counselors receive specialized training in substance abuse treatment, which may involve clinical experience, addiction fellowships, and special certifications. Addiction counselors may provide services in an inpatient or outpatient setting, such as a private practice or hospital. They may provide individual counseling, lead group therapy sessions, and intervene during crises. Sometimes this may involve being on-call and working weekends, evenings, and nights.

Addiction Counselor Graduate Programs

Without accurate progress documentation, it is impossible to collaborate on care, and choosing treatment options becomes difficult. By Kendra Cherry, MSEdKendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the “Everything Psychology Book.” John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE is board-certified in addiction medicine and preventative medicine. For over 20 years Dr. Umhau was a senior clinical investigator at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the “Everything Psychology Book.” It’s okay not to make a decision right after meeting with just one counselor.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of one-on-one therapy where a person dealing with substance use disorder regularly meets with an addiction counselor. CBT is considered the most effective treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. The job outlook for substance abuse counselors is expected to grow 23% from 2020 to 2030, which is faster than the average for other occupations.

  1. Addiction is a chronic disease characterized by compulsive and uncontrollable substance use or behavior, despite negative consequences.
  2. But there are evidence-based therapies that can help people manage the disease and live a happier, healthier life.
  3. Case management is a coordinated approach that links patients with the proper services to address their needs.
  4. Dialectal behavioral therapy (DBT) is another evidence-based treatment method similar to CBT.

The employment sector also plays an important role in determining salary. The median yearly earning for those employed in residential substance abuse facilities was $42,900, while the median for those in government settings was $60,450. REBT assists with understanding one’s thoughts and developing better habits and positive thinking.

Career Opportunities

Addiction counselors work in a variety of professional settings, from community mental health centers to state and federal government agencies. As a licensed addiction and mental health counselor, you can also open your own private counseling practice. Now is a great time to earn your master’s and enter the field of addiction counseling. This growth is in large part driven by a surging opioid crisis—a national emergency that’s been building for more than 20 years according to the U.S. Court-ordered therapy is also becoming more common, creating numerous counseling jobs in correctional facilities and halfway houses. Job requirements for substance abuse counselors vary by state and specialty.

The demand for substance abuse counseling services is expected to increase as more states legalize marijuana, and the opioid epidemic continues. 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.

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. Counselors must also complete continuing education courses annually and pass a state-issued exam.

Once someone is working in the field, the next step to further their education is to earn a doctorate. Standards vary from state to state, but most require a certain amount of education, hands-on work, and ongoing training. You might find that you want to pursue further education or work with a specific type of patient.

An example of this is leading 12-step group counseling programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous. The requirements to become an addiction counselor (substance abuse counselor) can vary based on your employer and which state you live in in the U.S. A good therapist will also be able to diagnose and treat any co-occurring mental health conditions. The most important quality in a good addiction counselor is a desire and commitment to help their patients move through the stages of change with the ultimate goal of achieving long-term sobriety. Counselors often develop these plans with other healthcare providers, such as mental health professionals and clinicians.

Addiction Counselors: How They Can Help

Dialectal behavioral therapy (DBT) is another evidence-based treatment method similar to CBT. It’s important to note that the availability and specific types of group therapy may vary depending on the treatment facility or program. Individualized treatment plans should be developed with the guidance of a qualified addiction therapist or counselor to determine the most appropriate group therapy options for each person’s needs. Your path to becoming an addiction counselor will vary depending on the requirements of the state where you intend to practice. As a first step, it’s a good idea to look up the licensure or certification requirements of your state and use this information to help plan your education.

Types of Therapies Offered

For many people affected by addiction, addiction counselors are the vital link to recovery. If you’re thinking about a counseling career, read on to learn more about what addiction counselors do and how they help to make a difference in peoples’ lives. If you or a loved one is living with drug or alcohol dependency, we can help. Contact Bedrock Recovery Center to meet with a substance abuse counselor and begin treatment. Substance abuse counselors coordinate with a variety of medical professionals to manage patient treatment, including social workers, psychiatrists, primary care physicians, and nurses.

How do I become an addiction counselor?

An addiction counselor collaborates with their patients to evaluate their situation and establish goals to develop a customized treatment plan. Your counselor should be a good listener and possesses an overall demeanor of compassion. The initial counseling sessions are designed to lay the foundation for mutual trust, which is imperative for a successful outcome. 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. There are instances in which people offer guidance to those with substance use disorders without official credentials.

As a licensed counselor with a master’s degree, you can look forward to a strong job market and reliable employment. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 15 percent of Americans 18 or older needed treatment for substance abuse (now more appropriately called “substance use disorder”) in 2020. The same report found that less than 10 percent of people who needed treatment for substance use disorder received it. Addiction counselors can help support you throughout the treatment process and create an individualized plan for recovery, relapse prevention, and after-care. There are various types of therapy available while in treatment that will provide an array of benefits and allow you to sustain your sobriety while in recovery.