Substance Abuse Counselor Specialties
Students specialize in a topic by selecting a concentration for their studies. Keep in mind that schools offer a unique set of concentrations, and some colleges and universities do not offer concentrations at all. Programs that do not offer concentrations often allow students to tailor their studies with a minor.
Examples of ideal concentrations for prospective substance abuse counselors include alcoholism, adolescent addiction, and mental health. Individuals pursuing a concentration in alcohol addiction learn about topics like genetic predisposition and the physical effects of alcohol.
Students focusing on adolescent addiction learn about how drugs and alcohol impact a developing brain. A mental health concentration emphasizes how substances detrimentally affect mental health and how some mental health disorders lead to substance abuse.
Individuals can also specialize in a topic by earning a certification from a professional organization.
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.
Renewing Addiction Counseling Certification
Certifications must be renewed every two years. Additionally, there are several requirements for continuing education credits that counselors must complete to renew their certifications. For each of the three NAADAC certifications, renewal requires 40 hours of continuing education every two years. Counselors must also provide their work history for the last two years.
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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.
Where Do Substance Abuse Counselors Work
Outpatient treatment centers employ 19% of addiction counselors, and another 10% work at residential facilities, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Addiction counselors may also find employment with hospitals, medical clinics, correctional facilities, halfway houses, schools, youth centers, government agencies, or non-profit organizations. Others are employed by individual businesses to provide employee support.
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Bachelor’s In Addiction Counseling Program Admissions
While some bachelor’s in addiction counseling programs require minimum SAT or ACT scores, schools typically consider a variety of factors, including overall academic performance, co-curricular activities, and personal statements. Online programs appealing to current professionals may give more weight to work and life experiences.
What Else Can I Expect From A Bachelor’s In Addiction Counseling Program
Most undergraduate students complete a core of general education requirements — including classes in English, natural science, mathematics, history, and the social sciences — in addition to major-specific courses. The specific course requirements for a substance use counselor degree can differ significantly between schools, and many addiction counseling degrees also include a capstone course, internship, fieldwork, or supervised counseling practicum.
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How To Get Addiction Counseling Certification
The criteria for certification of counseling is different in different states and countries. Normally a Masters degree in either social work or psychology is required to work as a substance abuse counselor. Then after you complete your Masters and decide to take the exam for a certified counselor, you have to complete two years of supervised field study prior to applying for certification. After that, if you want to know about different levels of certification:
· Level I certification requires three years or 6,000 hours of work experience.
· Level II certification requires two years or 4,000 hours of work experience.
· Advanced certification requires a Masters degree in a human services field.
In some states, only an associates degree in psychology or counseling is enough to practice in addiction or substance abuse counseling. Further advanced studies may allow you to offer more services to the clients. A Masters degree also enables you to work as a private counselor.
The Typical Work Environment Of Addiction Counselors
Addiction counselors work in diverse environments.
The vast majority work in addiction treatment facilities or rehabilitation centers. Some run independent practices, providing counseling services to individuals and their families. Others work in hospitals, mental health facilities, prisons, and juvenile detention centers.
In most of these settings, addiction counselors have a regular, full-time schedule. In inpatient facilities, counselor often work in shifts, as patients need round-the-clock care
The work of an addiction counselor can be stressful. Leading causes of stress among counselors include funding cuts and changing licensing requirements.
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How Much Do Addiction Counselors Make
As with any job, the location of your job its cost of living, work experience, and total education will play a factor. Whats most important is the joy you receive from helping someone and seeing them make it through their personal struggles and land themselves on a journey to recovery and improved health. That aspect of the job is priceless.
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?
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What Substance Abuse Behavioral Disorder And Mental Health Counselors Do About This Section
Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors advise people who suffer from alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders, mental health issues, or other mental or behavioral problems. They provide treatment and support to help clients recover from addiction or modify problem behaviors.
Addiction Counselors Are Emotionally Strong
Addiction counselors hear and deal with the addiction issues of others, so it is important that they are emotionally sound and maintain emotional stability. When an addiction counselor maintains their emotional professionalism, they are better able to effectively work with their patients. With all the emotional turmoil experienced by addicts, it is the addiction counselors emotional stability that can become the calm in the storm for many addicts. An addiction counselor must be prepared emotionally to cope with patients with all different types of experiences, backgrounds, and issues.
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Looking For A Place To Start
Reach out to a treatment provider for free today.
Jeffrey Juergens earned his Bachelors and Juris Doctor from the University of Florida. Jeffreys desire to help others led him to focus on economic and social development and policy making. After graduation, he decided to pursue his passion of writing and editing. Jeffreys mission is to educate and inform the public on addiction issues and help those in need of treatment find the best option for them.
- Web MD. . Substance Abuse and Addiction Health Center: Counseling and Addiction. Retrieved on February 17, 2016
- American Psychological Association. . Breaking Free From Addiction. Retrieved on February 17, 2016
- Foundations Recovery Network. . How Art Therapy Is Used in Addiction Treatment. Retrieved on February 17, 2016
- All About Counseling. . Drug Rehab Counselor. Retrieved on February 17, 2016
- Klean Treatment Centers. . Clinical Programming. Retrieved on February 17, 2016
All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.
Getting The Undergraduate Certificate For Alcohol And Drug Abuse Counseling
The majority of coursework in National Universitys undergraduate certificate is online through live-streaming classrooms. During the last class in the program, the practicum, students are assigned to work with clients on-site in the community, and they participate in a seminar where they go over their fieldwork.
Preparation for on-site work begins almost as soon as students begin the certificate program. In our program, we start helping students develop relationships with their local addiction community very early in the program through assignments integrated into the program, says Dr. Posson. By the last class, they have relationships and an idea of where they would like to do their practicum. Then we help them get a signed agreement with that agency for six months of practicum totaling 255 hours, a minimum in all states.
The undergraduate certificate at National University combines training in psychology, physiology, law and ethics, case management, and counseling. Students learn to correctly diagnose dependence issues and develop unique treatment plans based on individual client needs. Developing relationships with other counselors and professionals is an important part of the program students go out in the field to learn first-hand from experts already working in the profession.
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Earn A Masters Degree In Substance Abuse And/or Addiction Counseling
Some substance abuse counselor positions require only a bachelors. However to be licensed and certified, you must earn your masters degree. The National Certified Counselor is a prerequisite for Master Addiction Counselor certification. All NCCs must hold a masters degree in counseling. Thus, obtaining your graduate degree in counseling is a requirement for practice as a licensed drug and alcohol counselor and clinical substance abuse disorder counselor.
Become An Addiction Counselor
Substance abuse and addiction counselors treat individuals with drug and alcohol addictions, gambling and eating disorders. This career field is one of the most challenging mental health fields and requires a person with compassion, understanding and empathy.
They also have to be strong, self-confident and honest individuals able to deal with confrontation, stress, setbacks and incremental success. With the courts more willing to make drug or alcohol rehabilitation as part of sentencing for crimes involving substance abuse and addiction, the field is growing with opportunities in many areas.
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What Are The Education Requirements For A Substance Abuse Counseling Career
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In some areas, you may be able to take a certificate course to start your substance abuse counseling career. The best way to start working toward a substance abuse counseling career, however, is by completing a bachelors degree program in psychology or counseling. While working toward this degree, it is usually recommended that you take several courses on substance abuse and recovery.
In order to pursue a career as certified or licensed substance abuse counselor, though, you will also most likely need to earn a masters degree in substance abuse counseling, and complete several hours of supervised training in a clinical setting.
Learn more about getting your substance abuse counseling degree.
What Does A Substance Abuse Counselor Do What Is The Role Of An Addiction Counselor
A typical client who has been abusing substances may find their addiction to include alcohol, illegal drugs such as amphetamines, opiates, cocaine, or prescription medications. Substance abuse is a dependency on any mood-altering substance. As defined by the American Society of Addiction Medicine addiction is a treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment, and an individuals life experiences. People with addiction use substances or engage in behaviors that become compulsive and often continue despite harmful consequences. Prevention efforts and treatment approaches for addiction are generally as successful as those for other chronic diseases.
Without treating the addiction or engaging in recovery activities, the addiction can progress, resulting in disability or premature death.
While there are similarities of behavior across all types of substance abuse, an experienced substance abuse/addiction counselor knows to carefully treat each client as an individual with a unique history, personality traits, and pattern of abuse. Treatment plans are personalized based on a range of factors and may include individual or group therapy, as part of a comprehensive inpatient or outpatient treatment plan.
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Expected Daily Activities Of An Addiction Counselor
- Gather and review a clients history and background.
- Create addiction coping strategies.
- Recognize and deal with a patients deeper root issues.
- Consult with others involved in the patients treatment, including social workers, correctional facility employees and counselors, and family members to decide on the necessary course of treatment.
Addiction counselors understand that the reasons and causes of addiction are typically both physical as well as psychological. It is an addiction counselors responsibility to identify and cope with their patients addictions. Addiction counselors do not seek to belittle, put down, or otherwise make their patients feel small or ashamed. Once the root cause of a patients addiction is identified, a counselor will then use a patients strengths and weaknesses to educate, assist, and support the patient through the recovery process.
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.
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Substance Abuse Counselor Salary
Nationwide, the salaries for substance abuse counselors typically falls within the range of $46,240 and $76,080.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2019. National 50th 90th percentile range for Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder and Mental Health Counselors.Salaries based on national data not school specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed March 2021.
What Does An Alcohol And Substance Abuse Counselor Do
The day-to-day responsibilities of an alcohol and substance abuse counselor will vary based on your specific role and where youre providing services. According to the BLS, some of the overarching duties may include:
- Evaluating behaviors and mental and physical health.
- Assessing readiness for treatment.
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Do You Have What It Takes Substance Abuse Counselor Requirements
Substance abuse counseling is a specialized and challenging job with its own certification. Its a field that provides a good entry level into counseling careers since you dont need a bachelors- or masters-level education to become a drug and alcohol abuse counselor in 48 states, although it does require specialized training.
People dont pursue a counseling career in this field just for the paycheck. Being curious enough to research the education and experience needed to be an alcohol and drug abuse counselor is a great start, since reading journal articles and books on the subject will be an ongoing endeavor if you pursue this career path. Other qualities that make for a great counselor include:
- Active listening knowing how to read between the lines as clients talk about their lives
- Empathy being able to see experiences from your clients perspective putting yourself in their shoes
- Compassion showing genuine concern for a client
- Patience understanding that each clients progress toward positive change will be at their own pace
- Open-mindedness being nonjudgmental about details clients share with you
- Sensitivity keeping clients stories and health information confidential
- Authenticity being genuine, honest, and forthright with clients
What Is The Average Salary For A Substance Abuse Counselor
In 2011, the median annual salary for substance abuse counselors was reported as $38,560 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2014, national estimates for this occupation increased to $41,870. Individuals who complete graduate level coursework and hold a Master’s or Doctorate level degree often report higher salaries while employed in both the public and private sector. It is estimated that the top 10% of professionals employed in this field earn an annual wage of $61,420. The most common factor influencing earning potential in this field, aside from education level, is location. Salaries in metropolitan areas of high population density typically outperform those in less populated rural locations.