How To Become A Substance Abuse Counselor 2020 Career Guide

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How To Become A Substance Abuse Counsellor Career Guide

Drug obsession is a slow poison for any society. Youth is the backbone of the economy, and societies take measurements and precautions to save their youth from the evil of drugs. Countries have laws and treatment processes to ensure alcohol and drug-free community. Individuals who are drug addicts need assistance and support to get out of addiction.

Professionals who deal with drug addicts and help them to recover from addiction, both emotionally and mentally are known as substance abuse counsellors.

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Who are Substance abuse counsellors?

Substance abuse counsellors provide assistance to individuals who are fighting to get rid of drug addiction. They may also be entitled as “therapists”.

Getting clean from drug addiction is connected with many emotional traumas, and a patient needs to be handled carefully. Some individuals may face severe depression and even get suicidal tendencies while leaving the addiction behind. This is the point where the patient needs strong emotional support to stay strong during the journey.

A substance abuse counsellor has a vital role as they provide counselling and function with different patients who are trying to get clean from alcohol addiction. Substance abuse counsellors may work with volunteer patients who desire to get clean or with people who have received orders from the court to get drug-free.

A substance abuse counsellor analyses different treatment options that can be considered for those who are trying to get rid of the addiction. Working together with clients, a substance abuse counsellor can promote healthy behaviours and can help people to free themselves from drug addiction. Primary goal here is to make sure that patient is recovering fine, and there are minimal chances of relapsing or going back to drug addiction.

The family of a patient also plays a supportive role in this whole process. Hence, a substance abuse counsellor also interacts with a family of the patient and makes treatment strategies and plans to make sure that the treatment is working fine.

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Substance Abuse Counsellor Jobs 

A substance abuse counsellor may work in hospitals or rehabilitation centres. They can also work privately, and if a counsellor has specialized in the treatment of children, they may offer services to schools where they can provide assistance to teens and young children.

They may also work in prisons and with probation and parole or juvenile detention facilities. Being a therapist, they can also work with psychiatrists and psychologists.

The job can be challenging as it does not only requires flexible working hours but also a substance abuse counselor needs excellent communication skills as they have to deal with patients and their families.

People are involved, and their lives may be at stake. Hence, critical thinking, keen observation, and careful handling of clients are essential as sometimes the drug addict can relapse and go back to addiction if not treated or handled correctly.


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Job Responsibilities

This job is diverse, and although it can be risky, it is very fulfilling. You will find yourself in different environments working with offenders on probation, Prison inmates, parolees, or the families of the abusers. Your responsibilities will include setting up drug and alcohol treatment plans and testing, offering group and individual counselling sessions, and overall support for everyone involved.

You will need to assess the current action scenario for its effectiveness and write up reports on the progress and the test results, which will be handed to probation or parole officers. Furthermore, you will provide physical and psychological evaluations and help develop educational programs to offer your patients. Finally, your assessment will help determine if a patient should remain in a rehabilitation program, and if so, for how long.

Substance abuse is a leading cause or factor in many crimes, so punishing offenders without tackling the problem can be counter-productive. A substance abuse counsellor needs to be concerned with the rehabilitation and well-being of the person in question to ensure that once a sentence is served, they can truly move on to a better life.

The primary duty and goal of a substance abuse counsellor are to ensure drug-free and clean individuals and to provide them with emotional and mental support during and after the treatment.

They achieve this by working together with the patient and making plans and defining processes that lead to resistance from drug addiction. Substance abuse counsellor keeps a record of an individual’s health and builds different treatment plans that can be implemented accordingly.

Being a professional, a substance abuse counsellor can encourage their clients not only to get clean from drug addiction but also to maintain a healthy life afterwards. They keep records and write reports of their patients and analyse them regularly.

Substance abuse counsellors help their clients to build careers and start a healthy life afterwards. They also help their patients in submitting updates about their condition in court. In some situations, the affected family also needs aftercare plans, and substance abuse counsellor provides them with needed support. With mutual work, a substance abuse counsellor can add significant benefits to the overall society.

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Necessary Education

To work in this field, it is mandatory to have a bachelor’s degree but not necessarily a criminal justice degree, and the recommended areas are psychology, social work, or sociology. These degrees can be completed online through accredited institutes, and some of the preferred ones are Ashford University or Walden University Online. You may also need an additional year of professional work experience in drug abuse counselling or group treatment to be eligible for certain positions. Finally, most states will have a requirement of passing a state certification exam to be licensed to practice in the field.


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How To Become A Substance Abuse Counsellor

Although to become the substance abuse counsellor, the requirements may vary from state to state but in general, following are the steps to pursue the career of substance abuse counsellor

Get your high school diploma

Graduation from high school is a first step to lead you towards a career of substance abuse counsellors. Students at high school can do volunteer work for crisis centres or community organizations if they want to build their career as a substance abuse counsellors in the future.

Earn your substance abuse counsellor degree

After a high school diploma, you need to earn the required degree for becoming a substance abuse counsellor. The degree must be state accredited. Minimum required education in many states in a graduate-level degree in psychology or counselling.

Get state licensure

After completing a degree, a candidate needs to get licensure from the National board for certified counsellors to practice their career as a substance abuse counsellor.

A person needs to fulfil state board licensing requirements of the state where they want to practice their career. To become a licensed professional counsellor, a candidate may need to pass exams like (National Counselling Exam) NCE or the (National Clinical Mental Health Counselling Examination)NCMHCE.

In some states, an individual need multiple licensing to start a career as a substance abuse counsellor. An agency like NBCC also provides license which is highly acceptable nationwide.

Clear the background check

Any person if ever convicted from felony charges or child abuse will not be eligible for becoming a substance abuse counsellor. Passing a background check is required to become a substance abuse counsellor.

Substance abuse counsellor certification

Clearing the certification exam is also essential. Certifications make career advancement easy. Individuals with additional certifications can elevate their career as adolescent addiction counsellors or master addictions counsellor. Certifications also help in promotions and salary rise.

Substance Abuse Counsellor Salary

How much substance abuse counsellors make? Depends on which state they are working and what level of degree they hold. According to the Economic Research Foundation, the average salary you can expect will fluctuate depending on location and experience, but you can look for around $40,000-$51,000. There is a risk to this job, but it can be advantageous and worthwhile compared to other criminal justice careers.  Government agencies pay more as compared to residential care facilities. An increase of about 34% is expected, mainly due to the growing number of addicts being sent to rehabilitation centres instead of jail

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Expected Job Growth 

Substance abuse counsellors are comparatively pocket-friendly alternatives to psychiatrists or psychologist, so many employers prefer to hire substance abuse counsellors having a master’s degree instead of a psychologist.

The substance counsellor’s job is on the surge. The job demand is becoming higher in the past few years.

According to BLS, substance abuse counsellors’ jobs will have a significant rise of 22% by 2028.

Job opportunities are increasing as states are working to create a platform for children who need assistance in fighting drug addiction.

Most individuals start their careers from an internship and achieve higher ranks after completing degrees and certification. Substance abuse counsellors who are Master’s degree holders have better chances of job growth. 

Provide Support to Criminal Offenders and Their Families as a Substance Abuse Counsellor

Working as a substance abuse counsellor can be a very trying, demanding job. Not only will you have to work within the corrections system, but you will also have to work with people dealing with challenging and painful addictions. You will also act as a support system for their families to help everyone work through it and get better. It could even prove to be a potentially dangerous job since you could be placed in high risk environments with volatile people. If you are intense and passionate about this role, though, predicts an exceptionally high increase in jobs in this field, making room for many budding counsellors. 


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