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How to Become a Substance Abuse Counselor

how to become a substance abuse counselor

Do you want to become a substance abuse counselor? Not sure what steps to take to make your goals become a reality? In this article, we’re covering how to become a substance abuse counselor, so you can start taking the first step toward becoming one.

So, What is a Substance Abuse Counselor?

A substance abuse counselor is someone who provides counseling services for both individuals and groups dealing with substance abuse issues like alcohol and drug addiction. They can work in many different settings such as private clinics, rehabs, and healthcare facilities.

A substance abuse counselor (also called a substance use disorder counselor or addiction counselor) has a wide range of responsibilities. They conduct counseling sessions, administer periodic drug tests, and conduct interviews with patients. They also keep records of the patient’s treatment and progress and craft treatment plans for them.

Here are some of the key traits a great substance abuse counselor should have:

  • Patience
  • Compassion
  • Communication skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Active listening skills

If you possess these traits and like the job responsibilities listed above, you may be a great fit for a career in substance abuse counseling.

How to Become a Substance Abuse Counselor

Now that you know what’s involved in being a substance abuse counselor, you’re probably wondering how you can go about becoming one. Here are the keys you’ll need to take to become a substance abuse counselor.

Get an Undergraduate Degree in Substance Abuse Counseling

The first step is getting a relevant degree in substance abuse counseling. This program will teach you the basics of working with individuals struggling with addiction and teach you about therapy methods and counseling ethics.

If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree, that does not necessarily mean you can’t work as a substance abuse counselor. Some states require some college, such as a certificate program or an Associates Degree. But if you want more job options and career flexibility, it’s best to get a Bachelor’s degree or Master’s degree. Some programs will teach you more about things like pharmacology and crisis intervention. Some states may even require you to get a Master’s degree in this field before you can get licensed.

Get Licensed

Depending on the state you live in, you may need to be licensed to become a substance abuse counselor. License requirements differ by state, so you should look up your state’s rules prior to pursuing this career option. Licensure can involve a variety of requirements, such as completion of specific courses and a certain number of clinical internship hours before completing licensing requirements, depending on the state in which you become certified and work.

Get Certified

Another step is to get a certification. There are a variety of certification organizations which offer a few different certifications based on specialties and skills. These certifications often require education specific to the substance use disorder counseling or may require a degree. Usually, certification requires a clinical internship be completed before obtaining certification. There are many levels of certification, depending on what state who seek certification and employment. It’s important to know that, depending on your state, you may be required to complete continuing education to maintain your certification.

Final Thoughts on Becoming a Substance Abuse Counselor

The path to becoming a substance abuse counselor can seem intimidating, but it really isn’t. By following the easy tips outlined in this article, you’ll know how to become a substance abuse counselor and set yourself on the path toward career success.

Are you ready to take your next career step in becoming a substance abuse counselor? Check out our Introduction to Substance Abuse Counseling!

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