How To Become A Certified Substance Abuse Counselor
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As a profession, counseling can offer life-saving help to people in need. Effective counseling can change behavior, resolve trauma and allow patients to prosper. Substance abuse counseling can be a very important resource for those suffering from addiction. In this article we describe what a substance abuse counselor is, explain what they do, list steps that show you how you can become a certified substance abuse counselor and provide salary and job outlook information for the profession.
National Certification Commission For Addiction Professionals
Thisorganization offers three levels of certification: national certified addiction counselor, level I national certified addiction counselor, level II and master addiction counselor. Each level hasits own set of eligibility requirements.
NCCAP also offers specialized certifications, such as nicotine dependence, adolescent addiction, or peer recovery support. NCCAP requires a $235 application fee and a $200 application renewal fee.
Substance Abuse Counselor Certification
All 50 states and the District of Columbia have some form of counselor licensing that governs the practice of mental health counseling.
Explore requirements for the Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor credential in your state. The Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist credential is appropriate for counselors looking to specialize in family therapy.
In California, for example, more than one type of licensing might be needed to engage in substance abuse counseling. Visit the California Board of Behavioral Sciences website for an alphabet soup of licensing options.
Most states require counselors to take state board licensing exams like the National Counseling Exam or the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination to become a licensed professional counselor. You must also complete a certain number of counseling hours and pass written and oral exams. Felony and other background checks are required.
Mental health counselors may also elect to be certified by the National Board for Certified Counselors . This national agency grants a general practice credential, the Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor . The CCMHC is widely recognized nationwide and may be required by some employers.
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What Is A Substance Abuse Addiction Counselor
The decision to become a substance abuse addiction counselor is not one to take lightly. This is a career that asks a lot of a person. It’s more of a calling than a career, a passion than a job. You will be in a position to help many, many people through a very difficult time in their lives.
Not only will you be able to help the addict themself, but your impact will be quite far-reaching. That’s because the addict is often a whirling mass of chaos who runs rampant through the lives of his family, friends, and community. In fact, it’s difficult to find a single person who has not been impacted by the disease of alcohol and drug addiction. The ever-expanding opioid crisis is spreading the problem in ways no one could have predicted.
If you wish to work in mental health substance abuse on the front lines of a national crisis, you will need to take the proper steps towards that goal. This page is here to help. Continue reading to learn the steps you need to take to become a substance abuse addictions counselor.
Certified Addiction Specialist Requirements
The CAS is dependent on holding a degree at the bachelors level or higher. The degree may be in substance abuse or a related health sciences field like psychology, human services, or social work. An applicant may pursue equivalency evaluation. The licensing agency notes, though, that it does not generally accept sociology, nursing, or criminal justice degrees as they are not typically found to include required elements.
A CAS must have all coursework required for the CAT plus 11 additional training courses .
The student will receive 35 hours of supervisory training . He or she will have 14 hours in each of the following:
The CAS credential requires 2,000 experience hours . The total experience period must be at least 12 months.
The qualifying exam is the NCAC II. A CAS candidate who has already completed a qualifying graduate degree program may take the MAC instead. Both are NADAAC examinations.
A full-time counselor who is working toward the CAS will need three hours of supervision a month unless he or she has completed a clinical masters or is enrolled in a masters level internship.
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Is This For Me
The first step is to determine whether becoming a substance abuse counselor is truly for you. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to become a a substance abuse addictions counselor, substance abuse counselors must be certain before taking the first step. Here are a few questions you might ask yourself before becoming a substance abuse counselor:
- What is my true motivation behind becoming an addictions counselor?
- Do I have patience and tolerance for addicts?
- Can I remain neutral even when an addict reveals terrible things about their using days?
- Am I able to maintain objectivity enforce harsh penalties if an addict breaks the rules of a rehab facility?
- What is my personal history with addiction? Do I need to heal any old wounds?
- Do I enjoy helping others?
Online Counseling Degrees For Career Change
The Association for Addiction Professionals offers drug and alcohol counselor certification for licensed professionals looking to redirect their careers. Programs include:
- Nicotine Dependence Specialist
- National Endorsed Co-Occurring Disorders Professional
- National Peer Recovery Support Specialist
- Recover to Practice Certificate
- Conflict Resolution in Recovery Certificate
The NBCC also offers specialty counseling certifications and training in areas of addictions and clinical mental health. Counselors still need to seek out the specified regulations of their state counseling boards in order to acquire licensure to practice in their state.
Dont have a background in psychology? Dont worry. Teachers, ministers and healthcare aides often cross over into counseling careers. Many who hold bachelors degrees in the liberal arts, philosophy, religion, humanities or social science go on to earn a masters in counseling. Consider enrolling in an online substance abuse course to kick off your career transition.
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What Is A Certified Addiction Counselor
Well, generally-speaking, a certified addiction counselor is a mental health professional that provides counseling services, and support to recovering alcoholics and addicts . The primary goals of a certified addiction counselor is to help addicts work through their issues so they can attain and maintain a drug-free existence.
Certified addiction counselors work in a: group home, hospital, treatment facility, clinic, private doctors office, prison, and half-way house. They may work with clients individually, and in group settings. It is important to note that some substance abuse and addiction treatment facilities hire former addicts, who have maintained sobriety for a certain amount of time, to counsel active addicts through the withdrawal and treatment process.
These addiction counselors are not really counselors because they have not received formal training or experience in the counseling field, however, they are considered addiction coaches and addiction mentors, that provide a safe, place for addicts to work out their problems, and talk with someone, who has experienced the throes of addiction.
Both certified addiction counselors and addiction coaches/mentors can make a tremendous difference in the life of someone, who is suffering from an addiction. To become a certified addiction counselor, you will need to earn a bachelor degree and a masters degree in addiction counseling or a related field, and obtain a license and/or certified in the field.
A Rich And Rewarding Career
Congratulations on your decision to become a substance abuse social work counselor. This counselor career is in high demand, and you are bound to have a long and rewarding career as a result. Again, please consult with your academic advisers or your state board to ensure that you fulfill your state’s specific requirements for licensure.
At Addiction Counselor, we connect our readers with the tools and resources they need to begin a successful career in the field of addiction counseling. We have education guides, licensure information by state and much more.
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What Is A Substance Abuse Counselor
A drug and alcohol abuse counselor is a person with experience in providing treatment to clients who want to learn how to reduce or remove their unhealthy dependence on destructive substances and behaviors. Counselors work with individuals, families, couples, and groups to share a variety of techniques and treatments for coping with problems in ways other than turning to unhealthy substances.
People abuse alcohol or drugs for a myriad of reasons, often as a way to deal with stress and problems in their lives. A person doesnt have to be addicted to a substance to be abusing it. Substance abuse is similar to addiction in that a person enjoys the mind-altering effects, whether physical, emotional, or psychological. When abusing, a person may spend less time going to work or school or being social, since stress in those areas of life can be the trigger that leads to addictive behavior. Counseling a person who is dealing with substance abuse, before it becomes dependence or addiction, requires treatment and a recovery plan, but generally on a lesser scale than if the condition moves to full-blown addiction.
Licensed Addiction Counselor Requirements & Certification
If you want a job where you truly help others, becoming a licensed addiction counselor might be a great option to consider. At Sober College, we can set you on the path to becoming an addiction counselor, but first, lets take a quick look at the requirements and the training needed to become a counselor.
Licensed Addiction Counselors Are In Demand
According to the United States Bureau of Labor, the need for substance abuse, behavioral abuse and mental health counselors is growing faster than the need for workers in many other industries. The bureau speculates that between now and the end of the decade, the projected growth rate for this industry is 25%, which is considered a well above average job growth rate.
For someone interested in working as a licensed addiction counselor, this is good news because it means that there will be plenty of job opportunities to consider. The median pay for these types of counseling jobs was $47,660 or $22.91 per hour, according to the bureau. In some cases, your pay might be less or more, depending on your years of experience, level of education and the location of the facility.
Types Of Licensed Addiction Counselors
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Academics: The First Step
Once you have decided that work as a substance abuse addictions counselor is for you, you will need to begin a course of formal study. While your state will have specific requirements, most states follow a predictable pattern in their education requirements. Please consult with your academic advisers and with your state’s professional regulatory boards to ensure that your work will help support your goals.
Certified Addiction Counselor I Requirements
A CAC I may earn an associates degree in human services or a bachelors degree in any field. The candidate must have 270 hours of coursework related to core counseling functions. Content areas include human growth and development, helping relationships, psychopathology, psychopathology diagnosis, appraisal, social and cultural foundations, groups, career and lifestyle development, research and evaluation, and professional orientation. SCAADC notes that most, but not all, social and behavioral health courses are creditable. Introductory coursework in health promotion, psychology, sociology, religion, or anthropology may be credited. The candidate must document six hours of training in ethics and three in HIV/AIDS.
A semester hour at the undergraduate level is worth ten hours while a semester hour at the graduate level is worth 15. The value of a quarter hour is one semester hour multiplied by .667. The minimum grade is C. Workshops may be credited, but those that are not approved by NAADAC or other accepted agencies should be pre-approved the certifying agency suggests inquiring before paying fees.
The CAC I is dependent on completing 4,000 hours of supervised work experience. The trainee will need 150 clinical supervision hours. Candidates must pass the Level I written examination and an oral examination.
The certification agency notes that internship or practicum may be creditable as either experience or education.
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Career Outlook For Substance Abuse Counselors And Addiction Counselors
According to both the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics the average annual salary for a substance abuse/addiction counselor in the U.S. is about $46,240 as of April 2020. However, salaries vary depending on the industry, setting and experience. Despite the relatively low compensation awarded to those in this important field, there are very high rates of satisfaction reported among industry surveys. Perhaps because most people become addiction counselors so that they can make a profound difference in the lives of those who really need a helping hand.
Employment of substance abuse/addiction counselors is reported to increase 22% between 2018 and 2028 as mental health counseling is increasing being covered by health insurance programs. The BLS summarizes that states are seeking to provide treatment and counseling services to those with substance use disorders in an effort to decrease jail time.
The highest rate of employment is within outpatient care centers for substance abuse/addiction counselors. They are also employed in residential, mental health, and other substance abuse facilities across the nation. Contrary to the average earnings, substance abuse/addiction counselors have reportedly earned up to $63,740 per year working within junior colleges and slightly less in scientific research and primary and secondary school settings.
Pass A Background Check
In order to offer your counseling services legally, you may need to pass a background check. These checks assess candidates for histories of felonies or abuse. Most employers and certification programs require some sort of vetting process. However, if you have a personal history with substance abuse, this can often make you a more effective and empathetic counselor to your patients. Don’t allow a personal history to discourage you from pursuing a fulfilling career where you have the potential to help others. Individual state and employer expectations can vary significantly.
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Online Addiction Counselor Degrees
The more education you earn, the more tools youll have at your disposal to help people with addictions.
To get started in this field, its a good idea to earn a bachelors degree and then advance further with masters and even doctoral studies.
A number of universities also offer accelerated degrees in counseling online.
Six Steps To Becoming A Substance Abuse Counselor
Becoming an addiction counselor takes time and effort. After completing education and following the necessary steps, individuals can earn jobs as substance abuse counselors in private practice, rehabilitation, or hospital settings. Below, we discuss actions these professionals must take to emerge as a leader in this field.
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What Is An Addiction Counselor
An addiction counselor is a health care professional who provides guidance and support to those suffering from an addiction to drugs or alcohol. They may work with patients in various stages of addiction to help support them in their recovery process. Addiction counseling work may involve listening to patients and their concerns, offering support, advice and guidance and providing the appropriate resources to promote recovery. These counselors may also evaluate and provide counseling for patients’ mental health concerns to offer complete support as a patient seeks recovery.
Addiction counselors can work with patients through a private practice setting to provide individual or small group counseling. They can also work with groups within addiction treatment centers, hospitals or other health care organizations. Depending on their role, they may work with many patients at once and support those with different needs based on their current recovery stage.
Make A Positive Impact In Peoples Lives
Overcoming addiction can be one of the most significant actions a person takes. Understanding how to become an addiction counselor is the first step toward helping people improve their health and well-being and making a positive impact on the lives of an individuals family, friends, co-workers and community.
While achieving this professional goal involves many steps, they are well worth taking. The University of North Dakotas online Master of Arts in Counseling program and the Addiction Counseling and Rehabilitation Counseling tracks can help individuals learn the knowledge and skills needed to provide this crucial level of treatment to those in need. Find out how UND can help you develop your ability to serve.
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Qualities Of A Good Substance Abuse Counselor
Withstanding the emotional burden of substance abuse counseling isnt the only quality you need.
Any good counselor needs to be able to listen patiently to their patients. They should take the time to think and speak constructively in response to their patients.
This requires a lot of compassion and empathy. Addiction can sometimes feel like a foreign land for some people, and reasoning doesnt always work.
This means that the work can often be frustrating. Empathizing with someone going through addiction recovery is essential. This usually requires a good helping of patience.
Substance abuse counselors work with patients to help them with their addiction, but theyre also responsible for a lot of administrative work. Maintaining accurate records is a part of the role.
Finally, anyone becoming a counselor should be aware that this isnt your standard nine to five job. You dont always clock off when you leave the office at the end of the day.
Not only can the emotional stress of the day come with you, but you might also have to work evenings or weekends. After all, people suffering from addiction dont just shut it off at the end of the day!
Most counselors work with multiple patients. And working at a rehabilitation center or in your private practice often requires you to be on call for patients.
That said, being a substance abuse counselor is a gratifying role for anyone who does it. You get the opportunity to change lives for the better or to save them entirely!