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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

  • $41,697

    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
Specialist Case Manager Clinical Director
Administrative Director, Behavioral Health Services
11 Yearsyrs
Program Director Registered Nurse Registered Nurse Case Manager
Clinical Care Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Counselor Therapist
Clinical Director
9 Yearsyrs
Social Worker Therapist Clinical Supervisor
Clinical Program Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Professor Communications Consultant Communications Project Manager
Communications Program Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Mental Health Counselor Special Education Teacher School Counselor
Counseling Director
5 Yearsyrs
Counselor Case Manager Social Worker
Director Of Social Services
6 Yearsyrs
Substance Abuse Counselor Mental Health Counselor Social Worker
Director Of Social Work
7 Yearsyrs
Mental Health Therapist Medical Social Worker Outpatient Physical Therapist
Drug Abuse Counselor
5 Yearsyrs
Social Worker Clinician
Health Care Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Professor Solo Practitioner Housing Counselor
Housing Program Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Therapist Family Counselor Case Manager
Medical Case Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Therapist Mental Health Therapist Mental Health Counselor
Mental Health Case Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Clinical Supervisor Clinical Director
Outpatient Services Director
10 Yearsyrs
Program Director Home Health Aid Direct Support Professional
Residential Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Mental Health Counselor Social Worker Program Supervisor
Residential Program Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Substance Abuse Counselor Social Worker
Social Work Supervisor
7 Yearsyrs
Clinical Supervisor Nursing Director Utilization Review Nurse
Utilities Manager
9 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as an Addictions Counselor?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Clinical Counselor 2.6 years
Primary Counselor 2.5 years
Counselor 2.0 years
Top Employers Before
Case Manager 12.9%
Counselor 12.4%
Internship 12.2%
Therapist 3.9%
Supervisor 3.2%
Volunteer 2.6%
Specialist 2.5%
Clinician 2.3%
Top Employers After
Counselor 11.9%
Therapist 9.7%
Clinician 4.3%
Specialist 3.7%
Internship 3.3%
Director 2.2%

Do you work as an Addictions Counselor?

Addictions Counselor Demographics

Gender

Female

65.2%

Male

33.2%

Unknown

1.6%
Ethnicity

White

64.2%

Hispanic or Latino

12.9%

Black or African American

12.7%

Asian

6.8%

Unknown

3.4%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

69.9%

French

6.8%

German

5.5%

Swedish

2.7%

Portuguese

2.7%

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

12.2%

Capella University

11.9%

Liberty University

8.8%

University of Phoenix

8.3%

Walden University

7.5%

Eastern Illinois University

6.0%

Webster University

5.2%

Troy University

4.9%

University of Central Florida

3.6%

Coppin State University

3.6%

University of Maryland - Baltimore

3.4%

Towson University

3.4%

Anne Arundel Community College

2.9%

Governors State University

2.9%

Temple University

2.6%

State University of New York Buffalo

2.6%

Chicago School of Professional Psychology

2.6%

West Virginia University

2.6%

University of South Dakota

2.6%

Wilmington University

2.3%
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Majors

Psychology

16.9%

Social Work

15.1%

Mental Health Counseling

14.7%

School Counseling

11.4%

Counseling Psychology

8.5%

Human Services

7.0%

Criminal Justice

4.5%

Business

2.9%

Education

2.6%

Chemical Engineering

2.4%

Clinical Psychology

2.4%

Sociology

2.2%

Rehabilitation Science

1.7%

Family Therapy

1.4%

Theology

1.2%

Nursing

1.0%

Human Resources Management

1.0%

Pharmacy

1.0%

General Education, Specific Areas

1.0%

Human Development

1.0%
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Degrees

Masters

49.4%

Bachelors

25.2%

Other

11.4%

Associate

5.1%

Doctorate

4.0%

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

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  1. Treatment Plans
  2. Substance Abuse
  3. Intake Assessments
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Develop individualized, person-centered treatment plans based upon consumer identified goals.
  • Group Therapy in Mesa County Jail DUI Education and Therapy Enhanced Outpatient Program Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Substance Abuse Assessments for Court
  • Performed individual intake assessments and participated in interdisciplinary treatment planning while working collaboratively with other clinical departments to coordinate care.
  • Developed Comprehensive behavioral health assessments, individual service plans, referrals, performed urine toxicology tests to monitor substance use/abuse.
  • Conducted individual and group counseling, utilizing Motivational Interviewing and engaged in crisis intervention counseling.

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Top 10 Best States for Addictions Counselors

  1. Maine
  2. New Jersey
  3. Wyoming
  4. Nevada
  5. Pennsylvania
  6. Connecticut
  7. North Dakota
  8. Massachusetts
  9. Alaska
  10. Oregon
  • (24 jobs)
  • (141 jobs)
  • (13 jobs)
  • (59 jobs)
  • (263 jobs)
  • (58 jobs)
  • (12 jobs)
  • (608 jobs)
  • (4 jobs)
  • (50 jobs)

Top Addictions Counselor Employers

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Jobs From Top Addictions Counselor Employers

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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