Addictions and Substance Abuse Counseling Jobs

Addictions counselors, also referred to as substance abuse or behavioural disorder counselors, work with people who have problems with issues such as drug and alcohol abuse, eating disorders, and gambling addiction.
The goal of an addictions counselor is to counsel patients, helping them to identify problematic behaviour that leads to addiction and to break this pattern of addictive behaviour.

Job Description: A Day in the Life of an Addictions Counselor

The average addictions counselor works 40 hours per week, seeing patients on an appointment basis. Counselors usually work with patients on a long-term basis as they attempt to pinpoint addictive behavior and find ways to overcome this harmful behavior. In addition to seeing individual patients, counselors may also lead group therapy sessions, in which people suffering from addiction problems share their experiences in a supportive group.

Another part of a counselor’s job may include running informational and educational programs on addiction prevention and awareness. This could involve giving speeches at schools or health care facilities about various types of addiction, recognizing signs of addiction, and steps to take towards treating addiction.

General Requirements and Training

Addictions counselors should have a keen interest in helping people, be patient, well-spoken, and have excellent communication skills. The job requires interaction with patients, as well as patients’ families, friends, and in some cases physicians or parole officers. Educational requirements to become a licensed addictions counselor vary from state to state.

In most cases, a minimum of a bachelor’s degree is required. Common requirements include a master’s degree in counseling, a minimum amount of post-graduate clinical experience, and a passing grade on State-recognized exam. Requirements vary vastly in different areas, however. In some cases, addictions counselors may require no more than a high school diploma and certification.

Individuals interested in addictions counselling should check their State’s requirements to be certain.

Salary, Benefits, and Opportunities for Advancement

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median salary of substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors to be $37,030 as of May 2008. According to the average salary of a certified addictions counselor with one to four years of experience ranges from $25,490 to $36,104. reports results for chemical dependency counselors, reporting the mid-50% earnings range to be $40,096 to $51,044.

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