Are you interested in a rewarding career as a drug substance abuse counselor? Sure, it’s not exactly “cool” but it is a very noble job for some people.
This career path is perfect for people like you who are interested in offering support and treatment plans direct to people who are suffering from a debilitating addiction to substances such as drugs or alcohol. And it is not just the addiction sufferers who you have the opportunity to help.
In fact, you can offer support in the form of counseling to the family members and friends of the addict. This helps them cope with everything going on with the substance abuse addict and really strives to show them what they can do to make the process a successful and more smooth one.
If you think that this is the correct career path for you, then you should know that the job can have different structuring. The drug alcohol counselor can work on a one-on-one basis with the afflicted substance abuse sufferers, or the support and counseling can be offered in group sessions so that many patients are seen and treated at the same time with the therapy sessions.
The objective of the substance abuse therapist is to help those who are addicted to effectively deal with the day to day stresses of normal everyday life without resorting to drug or alcohol abuse to cope with what is going on in their life. It is also important for the alcohol drug counselor to promote a sober lifestyle to the patients to ensure their continued success with the program and new lifestyle.
Keep in mind that this is not just about alcohol abuse help as people can become addicted to a variety of different substances and before they know it their life is out of their control and they can no longer overcome the hold that these substances have on their life without the assistance of trained professionals who possess substance abuse certification in this area.
Before you become a drug abuse counselor, you should know that this is not a doctor type career as substance abuse counselors cannot legally prescribe medication. This means that you will be working closely with a variety of other medical and healthcare professionals like doctors, social workers, registered nurses and psychiatrists.
When entering the substance abuse rehab profession, you can also choose to work with certain groups of people. For instance, you may want to offer counseling substance abuse for just teenagers or just veterans. Doing this is completely acceptable and allows you to specialize in one specific type of substance abuse treatment.
Another thing to consider for your career as a substance abuse professional is whether you want to have a solo practice where you work just for yourself or if you want to join an established practice where you can work along side other substance abuse counseling professionals.
Substance abuse treatment does not have to take place in a medical office setting. In fact, many counselors work in a variety of settings other than medical offices. Some of your options include detox centers, prisons, halfway houses and detention centers for substance abuse treatment counseling. And, the treatment can either take place in either in-patient residential centers where the patients live in the center for the duration of the program or outpatient centers.
How To Get Substance Abuse Counselor Jobs
Some education is required to work as a substance abuse counselor, but that exact amount varies depending on what exactly you want to do and where you want to work. Some jobs require only a high school diploma while others require a college degree. Keep in mind that the more education that you have, the better your job prospects and earning power. And if you want to work in your own independent practice or program, then you will definitely need a higher education level.
Licensing as a substance abuse counselor is required if you intend to have your own private practice. At a minimum, you need a master’s degree and a large amount of supervised work in a clinical setting. Each state also requires the passing of an examination. The exam variety by location, for instance working as a substance abuse counselor NJ may have a slightly different examination requirement than as a substance abuse counselor NY. The National Board for Certified Counselors website can give you more details for your state. Check it out here.
If a private practice job is not for you, then you should know that you still need to get licensed. Education level does vary though.
Substance Abuse Counselor Salary and Job Outlook Info
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics can a great profile for the job outlook for Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselors here. Based on the most recent data, you can expect a median salary of just over $38,000 per year, which works out to around $18.33 per hour.
In 2010, the median annual wages for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors in the industries employing the most substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors were as follows:
Hospitals; state, local, and private ….. $45,160
Local government ….. $44,280
Individual and family services ….. $37,020
Outpatient mental health and substance abuse centers ….. $35,670
Residential mental health and substance abuse facilities ….. $33,570
The report also shows that the number of available jobs is growing by around 27 percent, which is faster than average for most occupations.