The Substance Abuse Counselor Training and Career Center


Welcome! You have arrived at the Substance Abuse Counselor Headquarters! Here you will find all the information you need for a career as a substance abuse counselor, including training, education requirements, qualifications needed for licensure and certification, and more! The Substance Abuse Counselor Headquarters will help you obtain the knowledge and skills needed to get where you want to be… fast!

Substance Abuse Counselor HQ

Welcome to Substance Abuse Counselor Headquarters! We have everything you need to help make it easier to begin your career as a substance abuse counselor! Follow the links on the site to find out more information on what substance use treatment involves, the requirements to become a substance abuse recovery specialist, education and training, job opportunities and more!

Do you have patience, compassion, and a strong desire to help others?  If so, you may be interested in a career as an alcohol abuse or drug use counselor.

Although substance abuse counselors are in one of the fastest growing careers in the United States, many people are unsure of what goes on in a treatment center or prevention program.  A drug addiction counselor is a rare breed of counselor, and it takes a person with a strong backbone and personality.

What is a Substance Abuse Counselor?

substance abuse counselor hqIf you’re new to this career, then you probably don’t know what a substance abuse counselor is.  A substance abuse counselor will work with clients on their addiction to things like alcohol, marijuana, opiates, methamphetamine, or any other illicit substance.  Substance abuse psychologists are commonly referred to as chemical dependency counselors or addictions counselors, too. An alcohol counselor often works with clients on other addictions like sex and gambling, as well.  We deal with all kinds of ailments, but they all relate to addiction in some fashion.

An alcohol abuse counselor is someone who has a bachelor’s degree or above in a related social services field such as psychology, counseling, or social work and works directly with clients suffering from substance abuse or dependence.  A alcoholism treatment counselor may also be required to have certification or licensure, depending on your state’s laws.

An alcohol addiction recovery counselor is used to help guide addicts through their recovery by leading groups, having individual sessions, and intensive case management.  An addiction specialist will teach clients about early recovery skills, relapse prevention, the trigger cycle, and ways to live a more positive life while abstaining from drugs and alcohol.

A large part of being a counselor is crisis intervention because oftentimes, a client will seek drug abuse counseling in the midst of active addiction when his or her life is in ruins.  A certified addictions counselor will often encounter addicts who are homeless and unemployed, or in the middle of a divorce or criminal case.  It is important for the abuse counselor to remember that these clients may need guidance in other areas outside of addiction such as mental health counseling or legal advice.

Something to keep in mind if you are looking into becoming a recovery counselor is that you will likely meet clients who do not want your help.  Clients may be ordered into psychological or psychiatric counseling by the court, by a social services agency, or by the pleas of a loved one.  Substance abuse counselors should be prepared to work with these clients and help lead them toward recovery just as they would any other client.

Drug Counseling: Serving Society

Not only will a drug counselor help guide those toward recovery, but one can also be used for prevention of substance abuse.  Because adolescents are the fastest growing population of addicts, school systems often bring in a chemical dependency counselor to teach young people the hazards of using drugs and alcohol.

A substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselor must be willing to work with all sorts of populations, as addiction is an illness that knows no bounds.  Depending on where you find employment as a drug use therapist, you may work with clients who are convicted felons or are currently incarcerated.  An alcohol rehabilitation counselor can specialize in working with adolescents or women, or have no specialization.  This all depends on place of employment and what your goal as a substance abuse advisor is.

Some General Info on the Recovery Counseling Career

drug and alcohol counselorAs you look around at different possible places of employment, don’t be discouraged if you don’t see the phrase substance abuse counselor specifically listed as an opening, because this career and position go by many names.  Some of the additionally popular terms you will encounter, we have already been using on this page, such as drug abuse counselor, drug and alcohol counselor, drug addiction specialist, and some others you will eventually come across.  They will be pretty easily recognizable by title, so don’t panic, just keep looking down the list!

Drug and Alcohol Counselor Positions

You might be wondering, as well, what are some of the possible facilities you might find yourself employed under.  There are so many paths that a drug and alcohol counselor can choose to make a contribution, that you likely will find yourself moving among them as you make more and more contacts within the industry.  For instance, you could likely start at an outpatient or residential treatment facility.  These are the usual entry positions that allow you to get some time under your belt and some experience on your resume.

There are many teenage residential treatment facilities and plenty of juvenile facilities that function more as a jail and rehabilitation center for troubled teens dealing with issues such as substance use, schizophrenia, kleptomania and other behavioral issues, etc.  Those are great experiences to have as you will learn a lot about yourself and the importance of parenting and environment.  There are so many variables in the equation that leads a youngster down this kind of path.  They are good to know so you can help people from all kinds of backgrounds.  The more you can authentically empathize, the more of a genuine interaction you can have.

You also could asist adults in half-way homes, who possibly are transitioning back into society from spending some time in prison.  Teaching them the skills to manage their internal and external environment is very rewarding work.  You will make money good friends doing this type of work.  You can go into jails and prisons themselves, lead AA and NA meetings, and make visits to homeless shelters and hospitals.  A great position in the field is to work as a prevention specialist, making your way through the schools and educating the children on self-esteem and self-empowerment.

Job Growth Projection of the Drug Use Prevention and Detox Field

drug abuse counselorThe field of mental health counseling is growing rapidly, and the more specialized drug abuse recovery counselor realm is increasing just as rapidly within it.  As society grows in numbers, and cities become more populated, the plague of drug addiction unfortunately also grows.  Thank goodness there are folks like you who are interested in keeping this curse at bay.  There will be plenty of opportunities opening up in the future in all of the facilities discussed above.  This, sadly, is an exponentially growing field.  We would all love to be out of a job, because that means society has let go of the misuse of medications and the abuse of legal drugs.  That is a goal we all work towards, and the reward will be great!

A Side Note on Salaries in the Alcohol and Drug Rehabilitation Career

I’m sure you are curious as to what kind of money you will be earning in this hard line of work.  As an entry-level worker in the addiction field, you can expect to earn somewhere along the lines of $20,000 and $30,000 annually.  This will depend on the region and average pay of counselors in the region.  This is if you simply have a bachelor’s degree.  Once you obtain your licensure and certification, this can easily jump up to the average salary for a drug counselor of around $35,000 to $40,000 dollars per year.  After you have become a veteran and old timer in the industry, you can even earn up to $60,000 every year.  That is a very respectable salary.

12 Core Functions of the Drug and Alcohol Counselor

The main responsibilities of the drug and alcohol counselor have been codified and standardized by the professionals of the field and consider the mastery of these as essential to becoming and being a competent and powerful drug and alcohol recovery counselor.  These, called the 12 Core Functions, are as follows:

  1. Screening
  2. Intake
  3. Orientation
  4. Assessment
  5. Treatment Planning
  6. Counseling
  7. Case Management
  8. Crisis Intervention
  9. Client Education
  10. Referral
  11. Reports and Record Keeping
  12. Consultation with Other Professionals

To read more indepthly about this, please see the page on this site on the 12 Core Functions of the Substance Abuse Counselor.  These will be the activities that make up your entire career.  You will be a chemical dependency expert, in delivering screening tests, processing intakes to make sure they are appropriate for your program, and if not you will refer them elsewhere.  You will orient those who are a good fit and perform an assessment which will help you gain insight into their particular situation.  With that knowlege you will create a treatment plan with them.

You will help them stick to this treatment plan and you will coumsel them.  You will manage their case as a whole, including intervening during moments of crisis.  You will educate them on the topic of chemical dependency and the behaviors and triggers associated.  You will take notes on everything you and they do and say and consult with other professionals about the best approach and path forward to recovery.  Doesn’t that sound like a blast?  It surely is, as you become more involved with each particular case.

The Training and Schooling of a Chemical Dependency Counselor

what is substance abuse?Before you get too excited and run off to start your new career, you have to realize that you must be properly trained, licensed, and/or certified to work professionally in this field.  You must take the proper courses, complete and pass the exams that confirm you have the expertise and knowledge needed, and then you must even work under the supervision of another senior counselor to prove that you can put it into practice in the field.

Unfortunately, this observation period is the first time you will likely get any real experience in the industry, and hopefully you will enjoy the work.  You will be observed to ensure that you maintain proper counselor and client boundaries.  Your relationship with your client is totally different than that of your friend, family, or special someone.  Professional boundaries are crucial for proper recovery for most addicts.

If you can pass through the gauntlet of education, testing, and observation, you will emerge from the other side as a true drug and alcohol counselor!

The Substance Abuse Counselor Headquarters!

chemical dependency counselorThank you for visiting the site.  We aim to make this the number one source for everything related to chemical addiction and recovery.  Addiction treatment can raise the quality of life for many people and their loved ones also affected by the illness.  You are contributing in bringing this blessing to the masses, and you should be praised.  We recognize your good intentions and actions and applaud you.  We hope that this website will offer you the information you need to become a success at your passion and career!

You will find general information about the topic of substance abuse by following the navigation on the right.  Above that, you will find the main pages regarding the career itself as we dig into certain topics more deeply.  And most recently we’ve added a blog which we will update regularly with more relaxed articles relaying some of the personal experiences we’ve had in the field and our own thoughts and opinions about the state of the industry.

Again, thank you for coming by.  Please feel free to contact us at any time and we will get back to you as quickly as we can.  It has been a pleasure putting this site together and we really hope it will be of great service to you!  Best of luck in your adventures!