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Become An Addictions Counselor

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Working As An Addictions Counselor

  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Getting Information
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • Mostly Sitting

  • Make Decisions

  • Stressful

  • $39,980

    Average Salary

What Does An Addictions Counselor Do

Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors advise people who suffer from alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders, or other behavioral problems. They provide treatment and support to help the client recover from addiction or modify problem behaviors.

Duties

Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors typically do the following:

  • Evaluate clients’ mental and physical health, addiction, or problem behavior and assess their readiness for treatment
  • Help clients develop treatment goals and plans
  • Review and recommend treatment options with clients and their families
  • Help clients develop skills and behaviors necessary to recover from their addiction or modify their behavior
  • Work with clients to identify behaviors or situations that interfere with their recovery
  • Teach families about addiction or behavior disorders and help them develop strategies to cope with those problems
  • Refer clients to other resources and services, such as job placement services and support groups
  • Conduct outreach programs to help people identify the signs of addiction and other destructive behavior, as well as steps to take to avoid such behavior

Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors, also called addiction counselors, work with clients individually and in group sessions. Many incorporate the principles of 12-step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) to guide their practice. They teach clients how to cope with stress and life’s problems in ways that help them recover. Furthermore, they help clients rebuild professional relationships and, if necessary, reestablish their career. They also help clients improve their personal relationships and find ways to discuss their addiction or other problems with family and friends.

Some addiction counselors work in facilities that employ many types of healthcare and mental health professionals. Addiction counselors may work with psychiatrists, social workers, physicians, and registered nurses to develop treatment plans and coordinate care for patients.

Some counselors work with clients who have been ordered by a judge to receive treatment for addiction. Others work with specific populations, such as teenagers, veterans, or people with disabilities. Some specialize in crisis intervention; these counselors step in when someone is endangering his or her own life or the lives of others. Other counselors specialize in noncrisis interventions, which encourage a person with addictions or other issues to get help. Noncrisis interventions often are performed at the request of friends and family.

Some substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors work in private practice, where they work alone or with a group of counselors or other professionals. These counselors manage their practice as a business. This includes working with clients and insurance companies to receive payment for their services. In addition, they market their practice to bring in new clients.

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How To Become An Addictions Counselor

Most positions require a bachelor’s degree. However, depending on the employer, educational requirements can vary from a high school diploma and certification to a master’s degree.

Education

Most positions require a bachelor’s degree. However, depending on the employer, educational requirements can vary from a high school diploma and certification to a master’s degree. Workers with more education are able to provide more services to their clients, such as private one-on-one counseling sessions, and they require less supervision than those with less education. Those interested should research their state’s educational requirements.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors in private practice must be licensed. Licensing requirements vary by state, but all states require a master’s degree and 2,000 to 4,000 hours of supervised clinical experience. In addition, counselors must pass a state-issued exam and complete continuing education every year. Contact information for your state's regulating board can be found through the National Board for Certified Counselors.

The licensure or certification criteria for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors outside of private practice vary from state to state. For example, not all states require a specific degree, but many require applicants to pass an exam. Contact information for your state’s licensing board can be found through the Addiction Technology Transfer Center Network.

Important Qualities

Compassion. Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors often work with people who are dealing with stressful and difficult situations, so they must be compassionate and empathize with their clients.

Interpersonal skills. Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors must be able to work with different types of people. They spend most of their time working directly with clients or other professionals and must be able to develop and nurture good relationships.

Listening skills. Good listening skills are essential for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors. They need to give their full attention to a client to be able to understand that client’s problems and values.

Patience. Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors must be able to remain calm when working with all types of clients, including those who may be distressed or angry.

Speaking skills. Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors need to be able to effectively communicate with clients. They must express ideas and information in a way that their clients easily understand.

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Addictions Counselor jobs

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Addictions Counselor Career Paths

Addictions Counselor
Program Coordinator Program Director Clinical Director
Administrative Director, Behavioral Health Services
11 Yearsyrs
Program Director Educator Case Manager
Career Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Licensed Professional Counselor Family Counselor Family Service Counselor
Case Management Supervisor
7 Yearsyrs
Therapist Program Director Educator
Case Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Clinician Clinical Social Worker
Clinical Care Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Social Worker Specialist Case Manager
Clinical Case Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Therapist Clinician
Clinical Supervisor
8 Yearsyrs
Counselor Case Manager Social Worker
Director Of Social Services
6 Yearsyrs
Mental Health Counselor Substance Abuse Counselor Social Worker
Director Of Social Work
7 Yearsyrs
Clinical Supervisor Nursing Director Case Manager
Housing Case Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Social Worker Therapist
Lead Therapist
5 Yearsyrs
Program Manager Education Director Case Manager
Mental Health Case Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Clinician Clinical Supervisor Clinical Director
Outpatient Services Director
9 Yearsyrs
Program Director Specialist Case Manager
Senior Case Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Mental Health Therapist Mental Health Specialist Clinician
Senior Clinician
7 Yearsyrs
Mental Health Counselor Social Worker
Senior Social Worker
6 Yearsyrs
Mental Health Therapist Mental Health Counselor Social Worker
Social Services Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Clinical Supervisor Adjunct Professor Clinical Social Worker
Social Work Case Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Counselor Social Worker
Social Work Supervisor
7 Yearsyrs
Program Manager Service Director Therapist
Therapist And Program Manager
5 Yearsyrs
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Average Length of Employment
Clinical Counselor 2.6 years
Primary Counselor 2.4 years
Intake Counselor 2.1 years
Counselor 2.0 years
Top Employers Before
Case Manager 13.7%
Internship 12.5%
Counselor 12.5%
Therapist 3.6%
Supervisor 3.1%
Volunteer 2.2%
Top Employers After
Counselor 11.9%
Case Manager 10.0%
Therapist 9.1%
Clinician 3.6%
Internship 3.4%
Specialist 3.0%

Addictions Counselor Demographics

Gender

Female

65.2%

Male

33.2%

Unknown

1.6%
Ethnicity

White

82.7%

Hispanic or Latino

8.8%

Asian

6.5%

Unknown

1.4%

Black or African American

0.6%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

69.0%

French

7.0%

German

5.6%

Swedish

2.8%

Portuguese

2.8%

Irish

1.4%

Chinese

1.4%

Mandarin

1.4%

Bosnian

1.4%

Dutch

1.4%

Dakota

1.4%

Russian

1.4%

Polish

1.4%

Cantonese

1.4%
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Addictions Counselor Education

Schools

Grand Canyon University

12.5%

Capella University

12.0%

Liberty University

8.9%

University of Phoenix

8.1%

Walden University

7.9%

Eastern Illinois University

5.9%

Webster University

5.1%

Troy University

4.8%

University of Central Florida

3.6%

Coppin State University

3.6%

Temple University

3.3%

Towson University

3.3%

University of Maryland - Baltimore

3.1%

State University of New York Buffalo

2.8%

Anne Arundel Community College

2.8%

Chicago School of Professional Psychology

2.5%

Florida State University

2.5%

Governors State University

2.5%

University of South Dakota

2.5%

University of North Dakota

2.3%
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Majors

Psychology

16.6%

Social Work

15.0%

Mental Health Counseling

14.6%

School Counseling

11.5%

Counseling Psychology

8.5%

Human Services

6.8%

Criminal Justice

4.7%

Business

3.2%

Education

2.6%

Clinical Psychology

2.4%

Chemical Engineering

2.4%

Sociology

2.2%

Rehabilitation Science

2.0%

Family Therapy

1.5%

Nursing

1.3%

Pharmacy

1.1%

Theology

1.1%

Human Resources Management

0.9%

General Education, Specific Areas

0.9%

Liberal Arts

0.9%
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Degrees

Masters

49.9%

Bachelors

24.7%

Other

11.2%

Associate

5.2%

Doctorate

4.1%

Certificate

3.8%

Diploma

0.5%

License

0.4%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Real Addictions Counselor Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Addictions Counselor Crisis Management Services, Inc. Philadelphia, PA Apr 25, 2015 $47,975
Addiction Counselor Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation Center City, MN Aug 26, 2016 $47,629
Addiction Counselor Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation Center City, MN Jul 18, 2016 $47,629
Male Inpatient Drug/Addiction Counselor (CDP) II Hazelden Foundation Center City, MN Mar 01, 2011 $41,250 -
$53,400
Addiction Counselor 1775 Summitridge Drive LLC Beverly Hills, CA Dec 22, 2012 $37,566
Addictions Counselor Innovative Health Systems, Inc. White Plains, NY Dec 02, 2016 $37,440
Addiction Counselor Mulvaney Therapy Santa Monica, CA Oct 12, 2009 $35,479
Addiction Counselor Mulvaney Therapy Santa Monica, CA Nov 16, 2009 $35,479
Addiction Counselor Jana Lynn Mulvaney PHD Santa Monica, CA Dec 22, 2009 $35,479
Addiction Counselor Mulvaney Therapy Santa Monica, CA Aug 24, 2009 $35,479
Addiction Counselor Mulvaney Therapy Santa Monica, CA Sep 15, 2009 $35,479

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Top Skills for An Addictions Counselor

IndividualTreatmentPlansSubstanceAbuseTreatmentIntakeAssessmentsAppropriateReferralsCrisisInterventionMentalHealthIssuesAlcoholRelapsePreventionAftercarePlansGroupTherapySessionsDischargePlanningTreatmentProgramChemicalDependencyIndividualTherapySessionsAngerManagementMethadoneAsamCognitiveBehavioralTherapyFamilyTherapyCounsel

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Top Addictions Counselor Skills

  1. Individual Treatment Plans
  2. Substance Abuse Treatment
  3. Intake Assessments
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Work with clients to formulate individual treatment plans; tailoring the process based on client's needs.
  • Case managed 40-60 clients in a court mandated intensive outpatient substance abuse treatment program.
  • Performed individual intake assessments and participated in interdisciplinary treatment planning while working collaboratively with other clinical departments to coordinate care.
  • Provided individual and group counseling, assessments, treatment planning and appropriate referrals.
  • Attended Cultural Diversity Training and Crisis Intervention Skills.

Top Addictions Counselor Employers

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Addictions Counselor Videos

A Day in the Life - Drug/Alcohol Counselor

What employers look for in addiction counselors

Lesson 1 - Introduction to Drug, Alcohol and Addiction Counseling

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