What Is a Substance Abuse Counselor? What They Do


Detox is only the start of a long process through which you’ll learn to manage cravings and avoid relapse. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for substance abuse, behavioral disorder and mental health counselors is expected to grow 22% between 2021 and 2031, adding nearly 80,000 new jobs. Once degree, education, work experience, and […]

Detox is only the start of a long process through which you’ll learn to manage cravings and avoid relapse. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for substance abuse, behavioral disorder and mental health counselors is expected to grow 22% between 2021 and 2031, adding nearly 80,000 new jobs. Once degree, education, work experience, and examination requirements have been met, candidates may apply to their local board for certification or licensure.

substance abuse counseling

This evaluation consists of 11 yes or no questions that are designed to be used as an informational tool to assess the severity and probability of an alcohol use disorder. The test is free, confidential, and no personal substance abuse counseling information is needed to receive the result. Addiction doesn’t only affect your life; your whole family is transformed. Successful treatment is more likely when you have strong relationships with family and friends.

Alcohol Detoxification

Online programs offer students flexibility and the ability to take classes on their own time. You can find psychology and substance abuse counseling certificate and degree programs online at a variety of schools with some offering specializations. Some medications can help patients quit drinking, treat alcohol withdrawal symptoms (as mentioned above), and prevent relapse. Patients may also receive different medications while in the care of an addiction treatment professional to help address symptoms of co-occurring disorders if necessary. If you or someone you care about is struggling with an AUD, you will likely benefit from some form of treatment.

The most advanced substance abuse counselor certificates and licenses require applicants to have a master’s degree or higher. A master of science (MS) in addiction counseling is the most common degree for this field. There are numerous online master’s programs and on-campus options with flexible schedules, which allow students to pursue higher education in this field while still balancing work or family. Substance abuse counselors typically work in substance abuse treatment facilities, such as outpatient clinics and residential treatment centers. They may also work in hospitals, mental health clinics, or private practice.

Important Skills for Substance Abuse Counselors

They may also regularly meet with previous clients who have overcome their addiction, to help them find a job and restart their new life, free of dependencies. Addiction to both cocaine and alcohol can be particularly formidable due to the dual impact they have on physical and mental well-being. Cocaine, a powerful stimulant, can lead to intense cravings and a cycle of compulsive drug-seeking behaviors. When combined with alcohol, the risks and consequences multiply, affecting not only the individual’s health but also their relationships, work, and overall quality of life. Some programs will allow you to specialize in substance abuse counseling during your graduate work.

  • There are six regional associations, each named after the region in which it operates.
  • Many states have specific education requirements for substance abuse counselors.
  • Encourages teens to seek emotional support from other adults, school counselors, and youth support groups such as Alateen, and provides a resource list.

You’ll focus your studies on different counseling approaches, research methods as well as participate in field work. Because many substance abuse counselors go on to run a private practice, some programs offer courses to prepare you for the business aspect of the field. Started in the 1970s to treat people who were suicidal, DBT has been adapted for other uses, including substance use disorders. In treating substance use disorders, the emphasis is on curbing substance use and behaviors that lead to it and boosting healthy behaviors (like starting positive relationships) that help the person avoid using. Substance abuse counselors help people experiencing substance use and drug addiction problems.

What is an addiction counselor?

With the right assistance, you can navigate the complexities of addiction and emerge stronger on the other side. Your journey toward recovery is a testament to resilience, courage, and the unwavering pursuit of a life unburdened by the chains of substance abuse. Embrace the support available, and step boldly into a future filled with renewed hope, vitality, and the promise of a brighter tomorrow. Recovery is a challenging but rewarding process, and having a strong support system is essential.

One study found that people employed as supervisors were more likely to be certified or licensed and hold a masters-level degree. Those with a higher educational status had greater familiarity and acceptance of evidence-based therapies. Counselors working in residential settings tended to have fewer years of experience. The role of the counselor in addiction treatment involves far more than just talking an addict through treatment.

More on Substance Abuse and Addiction

Currently, the FDA has three drugs approved for the treatment of opioid addiction and three for the treatment of alcohol addiction. Narcotics Anonymous (NA) is an international network of community-based meetings for people recovering from drug addiction. It’s modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), so it’s a 12-step program with a defined process for overcoming addiction. Outpatient treatment programs are the usual setting for drug and alcohol abuse treatment. While any counseling therapy for drug abuse treatment is better than none, group therapy is generally preferred over individual therapy. In group therapy, you’re more likely to be both challenged and supported by peers who are also going through rehab.

  • Kimmy has been a freelance writer for more than a decade, writing hundreds of articles on a wide variety of topics such as startups, nonprofits, healthcare, kiteboarding, the outdoors, and higher education.
  • In substance abuse treatment, the patient’s motivation to change can be a source of frustration, as counselors have little control over a patient’s desire to change.
  • The average growth rate of employment in all areas is 11%, while job openings for substance abuse counselors have increased by 22%.
  • Inpatient or residential AUD treatment entails patients living and residing in the rehabilitation center 24/7.
  • While it can be overwhelming to acknowledge and seek help, it’s important that you do — and know that you’re not alone.
  • At a minimum, counselors in this field must graduate from high school or have a GED.

Embracing the flux of an elderly person’s choice between growth and stagnation can lead them to examine the benefits of change more closely and ultimately determine the course of action that is best for them. Putting their mindset under a therapeutic microscope can assist clients in deeply contemplating their substance use within the context of the trajectory of the remainder of their lives. Studies have also shown that though these individuals are less likely to seek help, they can benefit from treatment just as well as those in other age brackets.

Specific job duties often vary depending on where professionals work and the type of support they offer. They often counsel individuals or groups to help people understand the factors contributing to addiction. Helping people develop new coping skills and ways of thinking is another important part of what substance abuse counselors do.

substance abuse counseling

One survey found that 71% of professionals employed in the addictions workforce held a bachelor’s degree or higher. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a treatment approach that focuses on changing thoughts and behavior patterns. Substance abuse counselors often use CBT techniques to help clients recognize the inaccurate thoughts and feelings that help maintain addiction. They also use CBT to teach new coping skills that help people find new ways to deal with cravings, relapses, and stress. They may feel vulnerable or ashamed, since many cultures and communities view addiction as a moral failing rather than a disease. For treatment to succeed, substance abuse counselors must create a strong bond with their patients, known as a therapeutic alliance.