Career and Job Search Guide

Substance Abuse Counselor

People from all walks of life struggle with substance abuse. Substance abuse leads to higher crime rates and other societal problems. It also tears marriages apart, leads to early or unexpected death, and finances barbarous drug gangs.

No matter how severely addicted a person becomes to drugs or alcohol, sobriety can be achieved following treatment. Substance abuse counselors work with people struggling with substance abuse to overcome their addictions.

Substance abuse counselors assist patients at private clinics, rehabilitation centers, and metal health hospitals. No matter where they work, substance abuse counselors provide treatment and recommend solutions to break dependency, cope with stress, and develop skills to withstand the urge to abuse drugs or alcohol.

One study reported that more than 20 million people in the United States struggled with substance abuse during the mid 2000's. As a result, there will always be demand for qualified substance abuse counselors to provide treatment to those unable to overcome drug and alcohol addiction on their own.

Many people struggling with substance abuse are reluctant to seek treatment. Frequently, people must hit rock bottom or have family members set up an intervention before they'll meet with a counselor. Once somebody begins treatment, they'll first be evaluated by a substance abuse counselor before receiving any treatment.

Once a person struggling with substance abuse agrees to meet with a counselor, the counselor will spend the initial counseling sessions asking questions to collect specific details about the addict. This is necessary since other people involved in the recovery process, which includes physicians, social workers, and recovery specialists, will rely on this information while working with the patient.

In the right circumstances, substance abuse counselors involve family members in the recovery process. Counselors want to learn how their family members' abuse affected them and give them an opportunity to share their feelings. Likewise, family members are a valuable source of information since people who struggle with substance abuse frequently lie about their addictions.

Once evaluations have been completed, substance abuse counselors collaborate with other professionals to develop a treatment plan. Counselors also frequently recommend treatment options for family members of substance abusers since they usually struggle with emotional stress caused by their loved ones' abuse.

If the person seeking treatment has a serious problem and requires detoxification and supervised treatment, substance abuse counselors can refer them to facilities offering these services. Many hospitals and private organizations provide detoxification and supervised treatment.

Those not requiring supervised treatment still often struggle with uncomfortable withdrawals. In most cases, they will be referred to support groups and meet with a counselor on a regular basis.

Counselors frequently stay in contact and follow the progress of patients they refer to other professionals. It is very gratifying for substance abuse counselors when their patients make progress. Since millions of people suffer from drug and alcohol abuse, there will always be demand for qualified substance abuse counselors to help people break the chains of addiction.

The following are facilities and organizations that hire substance abuse counselors:
  • Government Agencies
  • General and Mental Health Hospitals
  • Residential Inpatient Drug Treatment Facilities
  • Private Clinics
  • Homeless Shelters
  • Prisons and Correctional Facilities
  • Halfway Houses
Substance abuse counselors also find jobs with school districts, colleges, and universities since emphasis is increasingly being placed on drug and alcohol abuse prevention. Since prevention is becoming more important and substance abuse rates continue to rise, job growth will be very high for substance abuse counselors in the foreseeable future.

Effective substance abuse counselors should be empathetic, caring, and open-minded. They must also be patient since overcoming substance abuse is a long process and their patients frequently relapse. Substance abuse counselors must never give up on their patients.