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The substance abuse counselor industry

Author: Jared Anderson
Published: Jul 8 2014

Have you ever heard of a substance abuse counselor? Many people know of all of the associated resources out there, such as your typical psychological counselor, treatment centers, inpatient detoxification and rehabilitation facilities, but not as many know about a certain type of person that works at these places. Maybe you’re aware of a chemical dependency specialist or an addiction therapist. These are just synonyms for a substance abuse counselor.

What We Do

The typical job responsibilities follow what we call the 12 Core Functions. Without digging too deep, we can list them here.

- Screening;
- Intake;
- Orientation;
- Assessment;
- Treatment Planning;
- Counseling;
- Case Management;
- Crisis Intervention;
- Client Education;
- Referral;
- Reports and Record keeping;
- Consultation with Other Professionals.

This list represents not only the daily tasks of the substance abuse counselor but also the path of the client through treatment. No matter where we work, we make sure the client is appropriate for treatment, map out a treatment plan, and make sure they have access to the knowledge, tools, and resources available. Of course we cannot force anyone to engage in treatment, but we try to break down that wall as well. If the task is greater than our own facility can provide, then we might refer the patient to a psychiatrist, residential facility, hospital, or even social services to help in other areas of their lives. Our job is to help our clients cease addictive behaviors and maintain sobriety so they can get on with the rest of their lives peacefully.

Why We Do It

Many of us in this field have had personal experience with addiction. By this I mean that we either have become addicted in the past ourselves or we have witness friends and family members succumb. We have vested reasons for wanting to help others escape this cycle. The power of addiction spreads through relationships, tearing many asunder in the process. It destroys people’s financial well-being by taking careers, savings, and cash-flow. It removes health and happiness. This is why we fight the good fight.

How You Can Become Involved

If this sounds like a career you could enjoy, then great! We welcome as many people as possible, but we also want people to know that it is a labor of love. It takes a lot of strength, compassion, and patience to listen to and deal with the stories, pain, and resistance of addicts. The pay isn’t out of this world either but that’s okay when you care and realize you’re in one of the most meaningful careers available.

There are quite a few loops to jump through before you’re ready to practice. You have to obtain at least a bachelor’s degree in Psychology or Social Work, meet a strenuous amount of observational hours, and pass an exam to receive your certification. It’s not impossible by any means and it will prepare you for the tasks you’ll face, unlike many educational programs.

If you’d like to learn more, please visit The Substance Abuse Counselor Resource Center. We are a constantly growing encyclopedia of knowledge about addiction of all types. We also have a career section that let’s you know everything you possibly could need about entering the field. If addiction has impacted your life, please consider whether or not joining the war against addiction professionally is something you’d enjoy. Thanks for reading.

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