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Substance Abuse Counselor Job Description, Career as a Substance Abuse Counselor, Salary, Employment - Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

counselors help addicts people

Education and Training: High school

Salary: Median—$32,960 per year

Employment Outlook: Very good

Definition and Nature of the Work

Substance abuse counselors help people who have problems related to alcohol and other drugs. They counsel addicts as well as those who are afraid they might become addicts. They also help former addicts. Sometimes they counsel the families, friends, and loved ones of addicts, whose lives are inevitably affected by the problem.

Addiction counselors, as they are sometimes called, usually help with practical problems. For example, a counselor might help a former addict find a job. Counselors do not prescribe medicine or provide medical or psychological therapy. Substance abuse counselors are often supervised by doctors, psychologists, or social workers.

Some of these counselors work in halfway houses, where addicts live while they are under treatment. Counselors may also work in outpatient clinics where people come in on a regular basis for treatment. Other counselors work in hospitals, treatment centers, or human service agencies. Sometimes these counselors are former substance abusers themselves who have learned from their mistakes and want to help others. Substance abuse counselors hold counseling sessions for one person or for a group of people. At these sessions counselors try to help addicts talk about, understand, and cope with their problems.

Education and Training Requirements

A minimum of a high school diploma is usually required for this field of work. Counselors generally are trained on the job. Training programs vary in length from six weeks to two years. Some colleges also offer training programs for counselors. These programs usually last two years and include courses on the effects of alcohol and other drugs. Students may also learn crisis intervention—a way of handling emergency situations. Emergencies may involve emotional or medical problems. Graduates of these programs usually receive an associate's degree. Certification is also available from the National Board for Certified Counselors. For some positions, a bachelor's degree or higher in sociology, psychology, or a related field may be required. An increasing number of substance abuse counselors are getting their master's degrees in mental health counseling.

Substance abuse counselors help people who have alcohol or drug dependencies talk about, understand, and cope with their problems. (© Martha Tabor/Working Images Photographs. Reproduced by permission.)

Getting the Job

You can apply for a job at a halfway house, treatment center, hospital, or clinic that offers substance abuse counseling. Your school placement office may be able to give you job information. Also check state and private employment agencies. Newspaper want ads and job banks on the Internet sometimes list jobs for substance abuse counselors.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Substance abuse counselors who have a high school diploma or an associate's degree can advance to the position of director of a halfway house. However, most other advanced jobs in the field of substance abuse, such as rehabilitation counselors or social workers, require at least a bachelor's degree. For other jobs, such as psychologist, the minimum education requirement is a master's degree. The employment outlook is expected to grow faster than the average for counselors through the year 2014 because addicts are increasingly being sent for therapy and rehabilitation rather than to jail.

Working Conditions

Most substance abuse counselors work a forty-hour week. Some live in halfway houses. The work can be tense and sometimes frustrating. Counselors work closely with other people and should enjoy helping others.

Where to Go for More Information

National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors
901 N. Washington St., Ste. 600
Alexandria, VA 22314
(800) 548-0497
http://naadac.org

Earnings and Benefits

The median annual earnings of substance abuse counselors in 2004 was $32,960. Salaries vary depending on education, experience, and level of responsibility. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $21,060, while the highest 10 percent, who held bachelor's and master's degrees, earned more than $49,600. Benefits usually include paid holidays and vacations, health insurance, and retirement plans.

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about 5 years ago

I am a junior in high school and i know alot of kids who suffer from substance abuse weather it be drugs or alcohol. How long does the training for a substance abuse counselor take. Its something i am very passionate about and i could really use any other information someone gives me.

Great job on the article :)

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over 5 years ago

I just completed my substance Abuse counselors course. I am in need of internship placment in Phoenix, Arizona area I need to complete 300 hours in six months berfore I can take my counselors test. I cannot find a site in the west Phoenix area. Please email me if you can help.

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about 6 years ago

My son is a former user. He has now completed the Drug and Alcohol course at Stratford with a score of over 90%.
Where can he look for employment in Pittsburgh Pa.

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about 6 years ago

Hi, i am currently working for R. J. Blackley-ADATC[aLCOHOL AND DRUG ABUSE TREATMENT CENTER, HERE IN bUTNER, N.C., A STATE FACILITY. i HAVE REGISTERED WITH THE STATE AS A SUBSTANCE ABUSE INTERN AND I AM LOOKING TO WORK AS SUCH. hERE I AM JUST A cna health care tech. I feel that i could be an asset to some rehab center with the 27 years of addiction and 19 years of homelessness under my belt. i have a high school diploma and i am looking forward to completing my training to become state certified. Do you have any type of position availible for me?

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about 6 years ago

I am currently registered with the ncsappb-North Carolina Substance Abuse Professional Practice Board, as an intern. i am completing my 300 hours and will be done by the end of march this yesr. I am presently working for the state drug and alcohol substance abuse rehabilitation center here in Butner, N.C. I am looking for a position other than just a cna working as a health care tech. I have only a high school diploma and want to know iF there is any way that you can direct me to employment with what i have . I am not looking for top dollar because i am also in recovery. I have remained clean for almost 12 years, and my biggest pay check is to see another person in recovery, recovering. Please if there is any thing that you can do or say to help me, because this i feel is a dead end job and i really have so much to offer and it is just sitting inside me dormant. HELP



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over 8 years ago

this cite really helped me! thank you!

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almost 9 years ago

NICE JOB LIKE THIS ARTICLE!!

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about 6 years ago

I have a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology and am considering becoming a licenced Drug and Alcohol Counsellor. What would be your advice on how to go about this, and what is the highest salary I can expect, having a Bachelor's Degree? Also, is there a demand for this work?

Many thanks,

Michelle

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over 4 years ago

keep up

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over 8 years ago

This is an exceptional article and gives the reader an excellent idea of what they can expect working as a Substance Abuse Counselor.



Nicely done 10/10

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over 5 years ago

I am an LCSW-C and addictiction counselor who does a substance abuse treatment group at the jail two times per week. I am in view of the guards at all times and not responsible for their behavior during group. I am required to have addtional training, like the five week traning for Correctional Officers working as COs?



Kathy Beals

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over 6 years ago

Substance Abuse Counselor Job Description, Career as a Substance Abuse Counselor, Salary, Employment - Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

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over 6 years ago

I wolud like to appy for a counseor positon. Where and how do I apply? Your advertisment has excited me me to become emplopyed with the Phoenix House organization.

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over 6 years ago

What are the daily tasks of a abuse/crisis counsellor?

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about 5 years ago

i like you

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over 1 year ago

Substance Abuse Counselor Job Description, Career as a Substance Abuse Counselor, Salary, Employment - Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

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about 2 years ago

hello my name is sarah im a grade 10 student at huron heights in kitchener ontario im doing a careers summative for my careers class on a job we are interested in i love helping people and would like to become an abuse councelor for mentally and physically abused children and one of the questions on my summative is what are the vacations for the job like so if u could let me know asap that would be great
thankyou:) have a nice day

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about 4 years ago

this gives me no type of ideas what so ever for the work i want to do, but i still intend on joining this type pf work