Becoming a Certified Substance Abuse Counselor

Substance Abuse Counselors assist in the diagnosis, treatment and recovery process for people who have problems with substance addictions such as alcohol, heroin, cocaine etc. These professionals record the medical history of their clients and refer them to appropriate treatment modality based on assessment of physical and mental health status. More importantly, they provide counseling to individuals on a one-on-one basis or in a group wise regarding the recovery process and prevention from substance abuse. In addition, they work jointly with family members, social workers, doctors, psychiatrics and other professionals to prepare necessary services for people who struggle with substance addictions.

Certified Substance Abuse Counselors work in variety of environments such as hospitals, mental health centers, community health centers, rehabilitation centers, educational institutions, research centers, prisons, NGOs, private practices etc. They often work full time. However, they may be required to work in the evening or weekend depending on the setting.

Educational Requirements

To qualify for the position of a Certified Substance Abuse Counselor, educational requirements range from a high school diploma to a master’s degree depending on the setting and level of responsibilities. While the high school diploma holder needs to take training on the job, the students involve with patients at clinics during the master’s program.

The course work at degree program includes behavioral science, addiction studies, pharmacology, psychology or related majors. Besides, the students must read the code of ethics from either their state board of substance abuse counseling or NAADAC.

Certification and Licensure

Since the practice of a Certified Substance Abuse Counselor requires a license in many parts of the state, the aspiring candidates need to pass the licensing exam. The Association for Addictions Professionals (NAADAC) offers different types of certifications to those who wish to work in substance abuse counseling.

Skill set

Certified Substance Abuse Counselors possess varieties of traits such as ability to work collaboratively with diverse professionals, willingness to ask questions and accept feedback, crisis management and decision making abilities, understanding patients’ emotions, ability to maintain clients’ privacy, tolerance of occasional awkward behavior from clients or their family members, pleasant communication and interpersonal skills etc.

Job Outlook and Salary

The job outlook for a Certified Substance Abuse Counselor remains outstanding across the USA. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the growth rate for job opportunities in this profession may rise 31 per cent during 2012-2022. The average annual salary of an Addictions Counselors was $38,520 in 2012.