Substance Abuse Counselor
The substance abuse counselor is a mental health counselor specializing in treating patients who have a chemical dependency on drugs or alcohol. Whether counseling addicts or those who fear they will become addicts, a substance abuse counselor works with their client to help them overcome their dependency and become self-sufficient.
The substance abuse counselor may also work closely with the family of the client as substance abuse inevitably affects the loved ones of the chemically dependent person. While challenging, the role of substance abuse counselor is one that can be extremely fulfilling. If you have a natural inclination towards helping those in need, a career as a substance abuse counselor might be just what you are looking for.
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Substance Abuse Counselor Job Description – What They Can and Cannot Do
Substance abuse counselors are not able to prescribe medicine or give medical or psychological therapy. Rather they work with the client in an advocacy and mentoring capacity. The substance abuse counselor becomes a key figure in the life of the addict. From helping the client to see clearly the emotional underpinnings of their dependency to helping with more mundane tasks such as helping the client find or maintain employment, the substance abuse counselor works with the client to help them become self-sufficient in life.
Some of the duties of a substance abuse counselor might include:
- Working with the client to gain or maintain employment
- Helping the client understand the nature of their addiction
- Helping the client to have the support networks they need to break free of addiction
- Helping the client create concrete plans to improve their life
- Working with the clients family to help them heal from the trauma inflicted by addiction
Substance Abuse Counselors Contribute to Society One Recovery at a Time
The substance abuse counselor has a noticeable impact on their community. Some ways they improve their community include:
- Increase in community safety by helping addicts heal
- Decrease in crime rates
- Decrease in substance related hospitalizations
- Safer roads
- Decrease in domestic violence rates
The family of a substance abuser is often fraught with difficulty, heartbreak and emotional trauma. By helping the family to understand the nature of addiction and its related emotional component the substance abuse counselor can help to shift the families understanding of their chemically addicted family member. By taking a collaborative and empowering approach, the substance abuse counselor can help the family to participate in the healing journey of their chemically addicted family member. The impact on the family is very significant and it is tremendously fulfilling for the substance abuse counselor to help reconciliation and healing on this level.
For the chemically dependent person, the substance abuse counselor can act as a game changing influence in their life. By helping them to see clearly their patterns of addiction and problem avoidance, the substance abuse counselor can cause a radical shift in consciousness. This kind of empowerment can work to change forever the life course of the addict. From helping the client find employment to helping the addict reconcile with their family members, the substance abuse counselor works as both a mentor and an advocate in the life of the chemically dependent person. This can have a profound and lasting impact on the addict which is nothing short of life changing.
Education Requirements to Join the Workforce
To become a substance abuse counselor you will usually need at least a two year training program. However, increasingly a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, Sociology, Social Work or a related field is required to be considered for a position. In addition, it is always wise to study a foreign language as bilingual and multilingual candidates are highly sought after.
Substance Abuse Counselor Salary
Nationwide, the salaries for substance abuse counselors typically falls within the range of $46,240 and $76,080.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2019. National 50th – 90th percentile range for Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder and Mental Health Counselors. Salaries based on national data not school specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed March 2021.
What’s Next to Pursue this Career?
To start you on your path towards becoming a substance abuse counselor it is advisable to get a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, Sociology, Social Work or a related field. It is also wise to learn a foreign language as bilingual and multilingual employees are highly coveted. Here are some schools in your area that have degree programs in the field. Get started today on your exciting career as a substance abuse counselor!