Substance Abuse Counselor

Substance abuse counselors assist people who are addicted to alcohol and drugs and develop treatment plans to help their clients recover. Not only do they work with clients battling addiction, but they also help clients’ family members cope. They determine the triggers that may cause clients to relapse and establish methods to help them handle their problems. They also help their clients build healthy relationships so that they can discuss addiction.

Job Responsibilities

A substance abuse counselor is responsible for administering treatment and assistance to those suffering from drug and alcohol addiction. He or she works with a client’s addiction, determines methods for the client to overcome their habit and develops a recovery treatment plan. The substance abuse counselor recognizes potential situations or behaviors that may interfere with recovery. Additionally, they discuss treatment plans with the client’s family members to help them cope with the issues.

Substance abuse counselors assist clients in building professional and personal relationships and teach them how to communicate their problems with others. Sometimes, the counselor will integrate the principles of 12-step programs into treatments.

Pursue a Career in Counseling

With our CSWE-accredited online MSW, you can pursue a career in a wide range of areas, including therapy and counseling, community mental health, child protection, and more.

Explore Degrees

Substance abuse counselors need to enjoy working with individuals or groups of people for extended periods of time. They can work in a variety of environments, including in crisis or non-crisis settings and individual or group practices. Some facilities where counselors may be employed include mental health and substance abuse hospitals, outpatient care centers, general medical and surgical hospitals, detox centers and individual and family services. They may also work in non-medical facilities, such as halfway houses, employee assistance programs, juvenile detention centers, prisons or probation and parole agencies.

The job can be stressful with large workloads, but it also can prove to be rewarding. They might have to work with patients who are agitated, and they might not always have the resources they need to administer services.

Substance Abuse Counselor Salary

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that the median annual salary for substance abuse counselors was $41,070 as of 2016. Pay can vary depending on the industry in which the counselor works. For example, those working in hospitals, the top industry, earned a median income of $48,300 per year, while those in nursing and residential care facilities earned a median annual wage of $36,740.

The BLS also projects that employment for substance abuse counselors will grow a staggering 23 percent through 2026, which is more than three times faster than the national average for all occupations. This is partially attributed to state governments planning to increase counseling and treatment services for drug offenders instead of jail time.

Education Requirements

The requirements for becoming a substance abuse counselor vary by employer and by state. One should have at least a bachelor’s degree, though sometimes the bare minimum necessary is a high school diploma. A master’s degree in psychology, mental health counseling or clinical social work can help candidates provide additional services to their clients.

Many states require substance abuse counselors to complete an exam and enroll in continuing education courses. Substance abuse counselors must also be licensed if they work in a private practice.

Campbellsville University’s online bachelor’s in social work (BSW) and online master’s in social work (MSW) teach students crisis intervention, social policies, and marriage and family relationships. Graduates from these programs know how to advise clients from a perspective backed by ethical and Christian beliefs and how to be successful in the field of social work. These fully online programs offer students convenience and flexibility so that they can work their studies into their busy agenda.