How To Become A Substance Abuse Counselor 2020 Career Guide

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How To Become A Substance Abuse Counselor 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 counselors.

Who are Substance abuse counselors?

Substance abuse counselors 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 counselor has a vital role as they provide counseling and function with different patients who are trying to get clean from alcohol addiction. Substance abuse counselors 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 counselor analyzes 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 counselor can promote healthy behaviors 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 counselor also interacts with a family of the patient and makes treatment strategies and plans to make sure that the treatment is working fine.

Substance Abuse Counselor Jobs 

A substance abuse counselor may work in hospitals or rehabilitation centres. They can also work privately, and if a counselor 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

The primary duty and goal of a substance abuse counselor 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 counselor keeps a record of an individual’s health and builds different treatment plans that can be implemented accordingly.

Being a professional, a substance abuse counselor 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 analyze them regularly.

Substance abuse counselors 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 counselor provides them with needed support. With mutual work, a substance abuse counselor can add significant benefits to the overall society.

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How To Become A Substance Abuse Counselor

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

Get your high school diploma

Graduation from high school is a first step to lead you towards a career of substance abuse counselors. 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 counselors in the future.

Earn your substance abuse counselor degree

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

Get state licensure

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

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

In some states, an individual need multiple licensing to start a career as a substance abuse counselor. 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 counselor. Passing a background check is required to become a substance abuse counselor.

Substance abuse counselor certification

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

Substance abuse counselor salary

How much substance abuse counselors make? Depends on which state they are working and what level of degree they hold. A substance abuse counselor can earn up to $44,600k annually. Government agencies pay more as compared to residential care facilities.

Expected job growth of substance abuse counselors

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

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

According to BLS, substance abuse counselors’ 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 counselors who are Master’s degree holders have better chances of job growth. 

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