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Become A Drug Abuse Counselor

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Working As A Drug Abuse 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

  • $41,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Drug Abuse 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 A Drug Abuse 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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Drug Abuse Counselor Career Paths

Drug Abuse Counselor
Substance Abuse Counselor Therapist Case Manager
Director Of Social Services
6 Yearsyrs
Substance Abuse Counselor Therapist Clinical Supervisor
Clinical Director
9 Yearsyrs
Substance Abuse Counselor Clinician Case Manager
Patient Care Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Counselor Therapist Case Manager
Medical Case Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Counselor Team Leader Program Manager
Service Program Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Counselor Team Leader Program Director
Director Of Residential Services
7 Yearsyrs
Alcohol And Drug Counselor Social Worker Clinician
Clinical Care Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Alcohol And Drug Counselor Clinical Social Worker Social Work Supervisor
Director Of Social Work
6 Yearsyrs
Alcohol And Drug Counselor Clinician
Clinical Program Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Social Worker Adjunct Professor Superintendent
Resident Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Social Worker Senior Technician Specialist Nursing Director
Health Director
9 Yearsyrs
Mental Health Counselor Team Leader Program Director
Director Of Outreach
6 Yearsyrs
Mental Health Counselor Ambulatory Care Coordinator Registered Nurse Case Manager
Utilities Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Mental Health Counselor Lead Teacher House Manager
Housing Director
6 Yearsyrs
Addictions Counselor Clinical Supervisor Clinical Director
Outpatient Services Director
9 Yearsyrs
Addictions Counselor House Manager Home Manager
Residential Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Addictions Counselor Mental Health Therapist Program Supervisor
Residential Program Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Service Coordinator Administrator Registered Nurse Case Manager
Health Care Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Service Coordinator Medical Social Worker Psychotherapist
Health Unit Supervisor
5 Yearsyrs
Program Coordinator Lead Teacher Center Director
Director Of Family Service Center
9 Yearsyrs
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Average Length of Employment
Primary Counselor 2.5 years
Clinical Counselor 2.5 years
Family Counselor 2.4 years
Counselor 2.0 years
Top Careers Before Drug Abuse Counselor
Counselor 14.8%
Case Manager 10.8%
Internship 8.5%
Volunteer 3.8%
Therapist 3.6%
Teacher 2.5%
Cashier 2.5%
Top Careers After Drug Abuse Counselor
Case Manager 11.3%
Counselor 11.3%
Therapist 8.7%
Internship 4.4%
Supervisor 4.2%
Director 2.9%
Clinician 2.7%
Specialist 2.5%
Instructor 2.5%

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Top Skills for A Drug Abuse Counselor

  1. Treatment Plans
  2. Substance Abuse
  3. Group Therapy Sessions
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Initiated and managed client treatment plans and monitored program objectives to gain optimum participation and results.
  • Screened and counseled applicants for determination of substance abuse and program assistance eligibility.
  • Provide counseling services in group therapy sessions to help patients understand and recognize the consequences of their addictions.
  • Provided individual counseling; crisis intervention strategies.
  • Used recovery processes and relapse prevention models to identify substance abuse situations.

Drug Abuse Counselor Demographics

Gender

Female

56.7%

Male

31.6%

Unknown

11.6%
Ethnicity

White

61.7%

Hispanic or Latino

16.6%

Black or African American

12.2%

Asian

5.7%

Unknown

3.8%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

70.4%

French

18.5%

Arabic

3.7%

Japanese

3.7%

Armenian

3.7%
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Drug Abuse Counselor Education

Schools

Capella University

11.2%

Troy University

9.7%

Grand Canyon University

9.7%

Walden University

9.0%

University of Phoenix

8.2%

Webster University

5.2%

Florida State University

4.5%

University of Central Florida

4.5%

University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff

3.7%

University of Arkansas at Little Rock

3.7%

Nova Southeastern University

3.7%

University of Alabama

3.0%

New York University

3.0%

University of Nevada - Las Vegas

3.0%

Chicago School of Professional Psychology

3.0%

Springfield College

3.0%

Governors State University

3.0%

Marshall University

3.0%

San Jose State University

3.0%

Jacksonville State University

3.0%
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Majors

Psychology

15.8%

Social Work

13.4%

School Counseling

11.9%

Mental Health Counseling

9.4%

Counseling Psychology

7.7%

Criminal Justice

6.4%

Business

4.6%

Human Services

4.0%

Sociology

3.9%

Education

3.7%

Pharmacy

3.3%

Nursing

2.8%

Rehabilitation Science

2.8%

Clinical Psychology

2.8%

Family Therapy

1.5%

Social Sciences

1.3%

Human Resources Management

1.3%

Special Education

1.3%

Liberal Arts

1.1%

Elementary Education

1.1%
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Degrees

Masters

42.1%

Bachelors

29.2%

Other

13.6%

Doctorate

6.3%

Associate

4.4%

Certificate

3.5%

License

0.6%

Diploma

0.4%
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