Substance Abuse Counselor

substance abuse counselorCounselors help people patients to deal with personal and social problems. Substance abuse counselors counsel and help people with alcohol and drug disorders. Dealing with individuals addicted to drugs, they work to identify behaviors and problems related to their addiction, using one-to-one techniques along with family and group sessions.

Not everyone has what it takes to become a counselor, especially one dealing with substance abuse. If you feel you have the understanding, patience and commitment to this area, there are plenty of job opportunities in this field.

Substance abuse counselors held about 67,000 jobs in 2002 (US Dept of Labor). This number is expected to grow faster than the average through 2012. These days the emphasis is often on rehabilitation, rather than incarceration, for offenders, increasing the job opportunities for substance abuse counselors. They are also a cheaper option than psychiatrists or psychologists. Legislation is also pending that may provide counseling services to Medicare recipients.


To be a licensed associate substance abuse counselor you need usually need a masters degree in counselor education from a regionally accredited college or university, although some states accept a bachelor’s degree with appropriate counseling courses. Here you will cover counseling in the following areas: education, old age, marriage and family counseling, substance abuse counseling, rehabilitation, community counseling, psychology, career counseling, and related fields.

Once qualified, many counselors elect to be nationally certified by the National Board for Certified Counselors, Inc. (NBCC). This can be a stressful occupation, but carries with it job satisfaction and the ability to make a real difference to society. In addition you will earn a good salary as a substance abuse counselor, with the possibility of progression and mobility.