Substance Abuse Counselor Career


Almost 20 million people in the United States have been struggling with substance abuse. To overcome alcohol addiction and drug abuse is one of the most difficult tasks which could only be made possible with the assistance of a professional. A substance abuse counselor eliminates stress and makes victims stay away from situations which might cause relapse. Additionally, they also help addicts who have been recovering and have become quite sober now. They work with victims’ families in order to plan and organize interventions. Counselors of this specialized area counsel family members of addicts for treatment purpose. Substance abuse counseling might be tricky and complex but it is rewarding at the same time as it helps people overcome any sort of addiction.

Job Duties

Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors ensure support, rehabilitation and counseling services to people living in diverse communities. Regardless of their specialty, these counselors work with children, families, adolescents, and adults to cure more than one problem which could be a trauma or mental health disorder. Appropriate counseling could only be provided after identifying some of the major issues that affect the whole personality. Individuals who have been long struggling with gambling, eating disorders and drugs need help of these counselors. This kind of counseling is usually done in group settings while at times it is done on individual basis. The most common are drop-in and daily or weekly counseling sessions. Their main goal is to establish healthy behavior through coping strategies.

Substance Abuse Counselors also provide preventive and outreach education to people to avoid any sort of drug abuse. They need to look at both sides of the picture, not only on the affects of addiction but also on how these affects lead a person towards social isolation.

Job Outlook

Employment growth for these professionals is expected to increase gradually in the next few years. As more people now seek help from counselors and most of the convicted criminals are now treated through alcohol and drug counseling, therefore, the chances to witnessed serious prison sentences have become less. Counselors who complete college education are promoted to take care of halfway houses. Those with a college degree along with work experience could get employed at administration and supervisory positions in government agencies, private clinics and rehabilitation centers. The expected growth predicted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics is 27% by 2020.

Salary Outlook

According to, Substance Abuse Counselor on average earn $46,000 annually. However, in most cases it depends on education and experience.

Educational Requirements

A lot of organizations hire professionals with a bachelors degree in psychology, sociology and counseling. Counselors who have volunteered at rehabilitation centers or have performed counseling in clinics or assisted people for recovery are hired by different organizations. Moreover, a master’s degree is compulsory Substance Abuse Counselor with courses in professional ethics, counseling techniques, and human growth and development.

One also needs to complete specific hours under the supervision of a senior counselor. Students who wish to attain administrative positions must acquire a doctoral degree which would increase their chances of growth. In most of the states, students are required to become certified by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC).

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