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What Is Chemical Dependency Counseling?

Chemical dependency counseling involves helping people understand and overcome the root causes of drug or alcohol addiction. Read on for details about chemical dependency counseling and its professionals.

What Is Chemical Dependency Counseling?

Chemical dependency counseling addresses the ways in which drugs and alcohol affect people on personal and physical levels and in their relationships with others. A chemical dependency counselor coordinates their efforts with those of other agencies and counselors to get patients the help they need to break their harmful addictions.

Important Facts About Chemical Dependency Counseling

Similar Occupations Rehabilitation counselor, mental health counselor, human service assistant, social worker
Key Skills Patience, compassion, speaking and listening skills
Work Environment Typically full-time, sometimes in the evening or overnight (if at an inpatient facility)
On-the-Job Training Offered for trainees with only a high school diploma

Job Duties

Those who go on to become counselors will have opportunities to treat the dependency issues of patients and to discover why they became addicted. With their assistance, patients might find new ways of dealing with difficulties in their lives without relying on alcohol or chemicals to mask their original problems. Counseling professionals may also work with the families of the patients to help them understand how they affect the rehabilitative process and to offer guidance as they cope with the difficulties associated with having an addicted loved one.

Counselors might find ways of coordinating their work with community resources such as those offered by mental health clinics or in-patient centers. They must also be capable of collaborating with insurance providers or locating additional resources so as to help patients afford their treatment. Since it is important that these counseling professionals be available to recovering patients around the clock, they may have on-call or late-hour responsibilities.

Education Requirements

One can find degree programs that include associate's and graduate degrees as well as certificates. These programs begin with the basics. Coursework might attempt to explain how a family might enable continued abuse or, alternatively, work with the patient so as to help them to break free. Programs may teach the applications for various styles of therapy while preparing students to determine whether patients might fare better with individual or group counseling. The importance of professional ethics is also highlighted.

Licensing Requirements

Licensing requirements are different depending on the state in which one resides. For example, in Florida, certification is voluntary and no licensing requirements were located. On the other end of the spectrum, Vermont requires a graduate degree and an approved counseling credential prior to applying for a license. Texas wants applicants to have associate's degrees and experience, while Utah requires degrees, experience, and certification from the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors or Master Addiction Counselor certifications.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), the number of substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors were expected to increase by 25% from 2019-2029, which is significantly much faster than average. These professionals earned an annual median salary of $47,660 as of May 2020, as reported by the BLS.