Have you dealt with individuals who have an addiction before? Do you know how to be firm but understanding when attempting to help them break their habit? Do you know how to be compassionate towards their needs but not be an enabler who just gives in to them? If you said yes to each of these tough questions then a career as a substance abuse or addiction counselor may be the ideal avenue for you to travel. As a substance abuse or addiction counselor you will likely find yourself helping individuals with their issues or by conducting group therapy sessions. Your knowledge, training, and skills set will make it possible for you to work within a rehabilitation facility, residential centers, individual and family service centers, a health care facility, a community organization, a social agency, outpatient centers, or a correctional institute. This industry is expected to grow at a rapid pace, so now is definitely a great time to enter this field; becoming gainfully employed should not be the most difficult part of your new professional world. In your capacity as a substance abuse counselor you may find yourself working with individuals who have gambling issues, eating disorders, families of addicts, individuals who are addicted to drugs or alcohol, or people who are affected by behavioral issues. You will likely be required to provide prevention services, crisis care services, and recovery services.
On any given day you may be responsible for conducting interviews with potential patients, administering periodic drug tests, assessing treatment program readiness by reviewing a patient’s records, maintaining a patient’s records detailing treatment plan and progress, developing treatment plans that are appropriate based on an individual’s needs and history, and conducting counseling sessions.
Keep in mind, depending upon your place of employment you may also be required to review and analyze each patient’s treatment plan to evaluate their progress. In addition, you will likely find it beneficial to meet with other involved staff members or health care professionals to discuss the patient’s progress in many different aspects. As a patient nears completion of their treatment program, you will be responsible for helping him or her follow up by developing a set of expectations, procedures, and aftercare programs that will suit the patient’s improved needs.
It is important to understand that in order to become a substance abuse or addiction counselor you will need to check into what is required by the state in which you live. This is largely due to the fact that the requirements for this career vary greatly from one state to another. For instance, while some states require their substance abuse counselors to have at least a master’s level degree, other states only require that their prospective substance abuse counselors have a high school diploma and a certification. Furthermore, some states like for their prospective counselors to have previous experience in a related field. It is also common for most all states to require that their substance abuse counselors complete continuing education hours to maintain licensure. Regardless of your specific job requirements or the place you become employed, there are a few things that you can definitely expect as a constant. For instance, you will spend the majority of your time working to help individuals replace their unhealthy habits with healthy ones by supplying them with coping strategies and a personalized recovery plan. In addition, it will be crucial that you can effectively communicate with your colleagues, your addicted patients, and the families of the addict in order to help them get through the tough time of dealing with their addiction.