What Does a Substance Abuse Counselor Do?

Substance abuse counselors provide both individual and group therapy for patients suffering from addictions, including alcohol and drug addiction. You may offer help to prevent addictions or assist individuals recovering from an addiction as a substance abuse counselor. Schools offering Addiction Counseling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Job Description

Substance abuse counselors work with individuals and groups in various treatment settings, including healthcare facilities, rehabilitation institutes, correctional institutes, community organizations, and social agencies. As of 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors held 85,180 jobs. The industries employing the highest level of workers were outpatient centers, residential centers, and individual and family services. In this career, you may provide prevention, crisis care, and recovery services. You may also work with families of addicts. In addition to helping individuals with addictions to alcohol or drugs, you may work with people affected by behavioral issues, such as eating disorders or gambling.

Important Facts About Substance Abuse Counselors

Median Salary (2014) $39,270
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 22% growth
Work Environment Mental health centers, prisons, probation or parole agencies, juvenile delinquent facilities, halfway houses, detox facilities, employee assistant programs, residential treatment centers, outpatient treatment centers, or private practice office
Key Skills Patience, compassion, active listening, interpersonal, excellent presentation and negotiation

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Duties and Responsibilities

Your work duties as a substance abuse counselor may include conducting interviews with potential patients, administering periodic drug tests, and conducting counseling sessions. You will also handle duties such as reviewing records to assess treatment program readiness, keeping records detailing treatment and progress, and developing appropriate plans for treatment based on individual history and needs. To ensure patients receive the proper care, you may review and analyze patient treatment plans to evaluate progress and meet with other staff members and health professionals to discuss patient progress. When patients are ready to leave treatment, you continue to help by developing aftercare programs and follow-up procedures.

Employment Requirements

Each state handles its own regulations for substance abuse counselors, and there is no standard among the requirements. Some states may only require a high school diploma and certification for employment. Some states require licensure, which may entail meeting education standards, having experience in the field, and passing a licensing exam. In addition, you may need to submit continuing education documentation to maintain your license. Some state requirements may mandate the completion of at least a master's degree program or certification to become licensed.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • George Mason University

    George Mason University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at George Mason University:

    • Master
    • Certificates

    Online Programs Available

  • The George Washington University

    The George Washington University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at The George Washington University:

    • Master
    • Certificates

    Online Programs Available

  • Strayer University

    Strayer University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Strayer University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

  • Kaplan University

    Kaplan University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Kaplan University:

    Online Programs Available

  • American University

    American University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at American University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Southern New Hampshire University

    Southern New Hampshire University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Southern New Hampshire University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees
      • Bachelors - Psychology: Mental Health

    Online Programs Available

  • The University of Scranton

    The University of Scranton responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at The University of Scranton:

    • Master
    • Certificates

    Online Programs Available

  • Grand Canyon University

    Grand Canyon University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Grand Canyon University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Certificates

    Online Programs Available

  • University of the Rockies

    University of the Rockies responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at University of the Rockies:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Northcentral University

    Northcentral University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

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