What does a drug and alcohol counselor do?
Drug and alcohol counselors help and counsel people who are addicted to drugs and alcohol and assist them in identifying the behaviors and issues that are related to their dependency. They often provide counseling in group settings, but sometimes engage in one-on-one sessions. Group settings are beneficial because people can talk about their experience and get feedback and support from the group. Drug and alcohol counselors also often work with the family members and friends that are affected by an individual’s addition. They also often conduct programs that are intended on preventing future additions.
What kind of training does a drug and alcohol counselor need?
Drug and alcohol counselors usually have at least a bachelor degree and many have a master degree. Many programs require extensive coursework and supervised clinical experience in drug and alcohol counseling. Some employers offer training for new counselors. Drug and alcohol counselors must also keep current on treatment research and options for therapy.
Many states require drug and alcohol counselors to be licensed. Requirements vary by state, but often include completion of a master degree in drug and alcohol counseling, at least 2 years or 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience in addition to the master degree, abiding by the ethical codes and standards, and passing a state examination. Drug and alcohol counselors are usually required to complete annual continuing education credits to maintain their license. Many participate in workshops, graduate studies, and personal studies to fulfill this requirement.
What are the prospects for a career as a drug and alcohol counselor?
Employment of drug and alcohol counselors is projected to grow much faster than average for all professions, increasing 34% from 2006 to 2016 (1). Job growth will be driven by increased awareness of addiction and more people seeking treatment.
Job prospects are expected to be very good especially for drug and alcohol counselors with extensive experience. Job opportunities will also stem from the need to replace drug and alcohol counselors that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.
How much do drug and alcohol counselors make?
As of October 2009, the middle 50% of drug and alcohol counselors earned annual salaries between $40,173 and $51,106. The top 10% earned annual salaries of more than $56,025 (2).
A career as a drug and alcohol counselor is a great choice for individuals who have a strong desire to help people overcome their chemical dependency. Drug and alcohol counselors must be patient, compassionate, encouraging, motivating, and inspire the trust, respect, and confidence of their clients. They must be able to work efficiently independently and as part of a team.