When you want to make a true difference in the lives of troubled individuals, being a substance abuse counselor can be a great option. As a substance abuse counselor, you will help people recover from addictions to drugs and other additive substances. Being a substance abuse counselor can be a very rewarding career for people who enjoy helping others get on the right track in life.
Recommended Online Substance Abuse Counseling Degree Programs
- Liberty University Online B.S. in Psychology – Substance Abuse
- Grand Canyon University B.S. in Counseling with an Emphasis in Addiction, Chemical Dependency, and Substance Abuse
- Post University B.S. in Human Services / Counseling
What’s it like to be a substance abuse counselor?
Being a substance abuse counselor can be a very demanding job. You should expect to be “on call” for your patients at all hours of the day. You may end up traveling to the hospital in the middle of the night to check up on a patient. Substance abuse counselors face great emotional stress as they help people deal with addictions to drugs like heroine, cocaine, Oxycontin and other substances. People typically experience turmoil as they are slowly taken away from these drugs through a substance abuse program. Your job is to help people deal with the emotional side effects of being taken away from these drugs.
To become a substance abuse counselor, you do not officially have to obtain a college degree. There are people who are able to make it into this career without a formal educational background. If you do have a true passion for helping people with substance abuse problems, then you should seek to understand how the human mind works. You should pursue a four-year degree in psychology or sociology from a college. It is also a good idea to take courses on caring for humans within the nursing department of a college.
You will then have to take the Certification Board for Addiction Professionals exam. The certifications vary from state to state. You may also need a certain number of work hours in order to be able to sit for the exam. This means that you should try to get experience in a substance abuse home. You may be able to volunteer for a local charity that helps people who have substance abuse problems. It is also valuable experience to sit in on meetings with individuals who are struggling with substance abuse problems. You can gain first-hand knowledge of the ways that counselors seek to help these individuals deal with high levels of emotional trauma.
Salary & How to Get a Job
The typical salary for a person who is a substance abuse counselor is $45,000. If someone wants to break into this field, he or she should look for open positions at the local hospital, psychologist offices and mental health clinics. One can also find specific “niche” positions at colleges. These sorts of positions help students who are dealing with addiction problems. There are truly a diverse variety of jobs that a person can pursue in the substance abuse counseling field. One may even decide to work with lawyers, doctors or even professional athletes who suffer from an addiction to a particular type of drug.
When you do enter this field, you should be prepared to work night shifts. People with substance abuse problems are frequently admitted into the ER at night, and hospitals require individuals who can immediately begin offering counseling for addicts.
Being a substance abuse counselor can give you the sense that you are making a genuine difference in someone else’s life. You are helping a person overcome an addiction and be able to live a normal lifestyle. You are helping a person also gain a sense of stability in his or her life. Lastly, you are helping someone feel that he or she is not alone in dealing with this addiction.