Author: Gary Jackson

What Is a Substance Abuse Counselor? What They Do

A Bachelor of Science in psychology is one type of degree held by addiction counselors, but for greater professional advancement, most counselors obtain a master’s degree. To be licensed to work as a substance abuse counselor, a therapist must hold a master’s degree and have 2,000 to 4,000 hours of supervised clinical experience. Additionally, addiction counselors must complete continuing education courses every year and pass a state-issued exam. However, keep in mind that each state’s regulations are unique, and the license and certification requirements vary.

  • While it can be overwhelming to acknowledge and seek help, it’s important that you do — and know that you’re not alone.
  • An addiction counselor (substance abuse counselor) helps people who have substance use disorders get treatment.
  • These medicines can reduce your craving for opioids and may help you avoid relapse.
  • The demand for substance abuse counseling services is expected to increase as more states legalize marijuana, and the opioid epidemic continues.
  • Those with master’s-level degrees in fields such as psychology, social work, counseling, and related fields can provide individual counseling or may work in private practice.

For many clients, the two diagnoses (substance abuse and mental health disorder) are deeply intertwined, requiring simultaneous treatment. Counseling and therapy for addiction help individuals understand what causes addiction, learn to recognize risk factors for relapse and develop tools for coping with stressful situations. Common techniques include cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing and dialectical behavioral therapy. These professionals work with individuals who experience a range of substance use issues.

National Helpline

For diagnosis of a substance use disorder, most mental health professionals use criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association. Professionals in private practice must be licensed by the state where they work. Substance abuse counselors may also utilize an approach known as motivational interviewing to help people with addictions find the motivation to make changes in their lives. Using this strategy, counselors offer empathy and support while encouraging clients to see the discrepancy between where they are now and where they want to be.

substance abuse counseling

They provide treatment and support for people trying to overcome substance use disorders or addictions. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a treatment approach that focuses on changing thoughts and behavior patterns. Substance abuse counselors often use CBT techniques to help clients recognize the inaccurate thoughts and feelings that help maintain addiction.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

People who choose a career in addiction counseling can work in a variety of settings, from hospitals and rehabilitation centers to halfway houses, prisons and private practices. Specific job duties often vary depending on where professionals work and the type of support they offer. They often counsel individuals or groups to help people understand the factors contributing to addiction. Helping people develop new coping skills and ways of thinking is another important part of what substance abuse counselors do.

  • The self-help support group message is that addiction is an ongoing disorder with a danger of relapse.
  • Substance abuse counselors help people experiencing substance use and drug addiction problems.
  • Substance abuse counselors may also utilize an approach known as motivational interviewing to help people with addictions find the motivation to make changes in their lives.
  • They may provide individual counseling, lead group therapy sessions, and intervene during crises.
  • This relationship, which involves a bond of respect, trust, and mutual collaboration, can play an important part in successful substance use disorder treatment.
  • By Kendra Cherry, MSEd

    Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the “Everything Psychology Book.”