Substance Abuse Counselor


SUBSTANCE ABUSE COUNSELORS PROVIDE TREATMENT AND SUPPORT for people suffering from substance abuse disorders such as alcohol, tobacco and drug addiction, and addictive problems such as gambling and eating disorders. Their duties include assessing and evaluating their clients' mental and physical health; helping to develop goals and formulate treatment plans; counseling clients individually or in group sessions; intervening and advocating for clients to help resolve problems; referring clients to needed services and resources; maintaining records of the client's history and progress and evaluating their progress; and educating the community on substance abuse and addiction. They might work alone or in a group setting with other professionals, such as doctors, nurses and social workers. They work with clients--and often the families of those clients--on developing the necessary skills for recovery.

The Workplace

Substance abuse counselors work in mental health, detox and residential treatment centers, as well as outpatient treatment facilities or in private practice. Some work in prisons, probation or parole agencies, juvenile detention facilities and halfway-houses. They may also find employment with organizations that have employee-assistance programs in place to help workers cope with drug addiction and other problems.

Education

According to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), educational requirements for substance abuse counselors range from a high school diploma and certification to a master's degree; however, substance abuse counselors in private practice must be licensed. Licensing requirements vary by state, but all states require a master's degree, between 2,000-4,000 hours of supervised clinical experience, passing a state-recognized exam and annual continuing education. …

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