Substance abuse counseling is a psychology subspecialty that addressed the problems of people who have problems with drugs and alcohol. At times, substance abuse counselors will also work with family members of the addicted client, as they are also affected by the addiction. Personal counseling, family counseling, group therapy and outreach educational efforts are often a part of the substance abuse counselor’s work.
Substance abuse counselors have a wide range of possible employment opportunities. These professionals aid close to 20 million Americans each year in half-way houses, hospitals and homeless shelters across the United States. In addition to these locations, substance abuse counselors are often called upon to help individual or group patients in therapy sessions.
The profession also lends support to jails and prisons, drug and alcohol treatment centers, social welfare agencies and state or community departments. Patients who suffer from substance abuse problems are usually subject to a variety of behavioral disorders. For this reason, the profession can overlap with behavioral disorder counseling.
Substance Abuse Counselors and Youth
Perhaps one of the most rewarding, but also one of the most challenging, roles that substance abuse counselors will face during their careers is that of helping youth. Teenagers and young adults account for a quickly growing population of those affected by substance abuse. In fact, many secondary schools and colleges have enlisted help from substance abuse counselors to deal with growing problems.
Perhaps the most important aspect of the job as it pertains to young people is prevention. Many holders of a substance abuse counseling degree initiate programs to educate both children and their parents before early exposure to harmful substances finds a way into the child’s life.
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Careers in Substance Abuse Counseling
Substance abuse counseling professionals earn between $27,603 and $38,964 per year. Those with a Bachelor of Science or Master’s Degree typically earned more, sometimes nearly double what a professional with a Bachelor of Arts would earn. The most popular areas of focus in this specialization are substance abuse prevention, counseling, addiction recovery, rehabilitation and health care services.
Obtaining a Substance Abuse Counseling Degree
A master’s degree is essential to become licensed and start your own substance abuse counseling practice in most states. Most substance abuse counseling schools will offer one of the following degrees: Master of Science, Master of Arts, or Master of Social Work. You can specialize during post-graduate work or attain certification following the program. Each state may have its own education and certification requirements, so make sure that you check with an accredited educational institution in your state before proceeding.