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In 2017, nearly 20 million adults across America suffered from substance addiction. And 38% of American adults found themselves abusing illegal drugs.
Drug and alcohol addiction has devastating consequences on the lives of addicts and their loved ones. These types of addictions can damage their health, finances, and emotional well-being.
But breaking out of addiction on your own is almost impossible. That’s why addicts need all the help they can get. And this is where substance abuse counselors come in.
This unique role offers you the opportunity to change lives for the better. But how do you become a substance abuse counselor?
Well, one way is to start with training. To find out more about how to get your CCAPP certification, read on!
What Is a Substance Abuse Counselor?
A substance abuse counselor is vital when it comes to recovering from addiction. They support recovery in a variety of ways.
Counselors can work in lots of places, including hospitals, clinics, prisons, and rehabilitation centers. Some also choose to work privately.
Counseling is an essential part of recovery from addiction. There are many different ways to approach it, and all counselors have the same goal: to help you on your path to recovery.
One of the key areas they focus on is changing patterns in the addict’s behavior. This is vital for anyone trying to break the cycle of addiction.
They teach patients essential coping strategies and life skills to use when recovering. In this way, they offer their patients practical support and give them someone to talk to.
This is a highly challenging role, as breaking free from addiction is often a stressful and emotional journey. This impacts both the patient and their counselor throughout the process. So anyone working as a substance abuse counselor has to process these emotions healthy and proactively.
Qualities of a Good Substance Abuse Counselor
Withstanding the emotional burden of substance abuse counseling isn’t the only quality you need.
Any good counselor needs to be able to listen patiently to their patients. They should take the time to think and speak constructively in response to their patients.
This requires a lot of compassion and empathy. Addiction can sometimes feel like a foreign land for some people, and reasoning doesn’t always work.
This means that the work can often be frustrating. Empathizing with someone going through addiction recovery is essential. This usually requires a good helping of patience.
Substance abuse counselors work with patients to help them with their addiction, but they’re also responsible for a lot of administrative work. Maintaining accurate records is a part of the role.
Finally, anyone becoming a counselor should be aware that this isn’t your standard nine to five job. You don’t always clock off when you leave the office at the end of the day.
Not only can the emotional stress of the day come with you, but you might also have to work evenings or weekends. After all, people suffering from addiction don’t just shut it off at the end of the day!
Most counselors work with multiple patients. And working at a rehabilitation center or in your private practice often requires you to be on call for patients.
That said, being a substance abuse counselor is a gratifying role for anyone who does it. You get the opportunity to change lives for the better or to save them entirely!
If you think that this could be the job for you, your next step is to get qualified with your substance abuse counselor certification.
How to Become a Counselor
A substance abuse counselor holds a position of power and trust in their patients’ lives. So becoming one requires rigorous training and qualifications. This involves getting your addiction counseling certificate.
There are several different boards to get your certification from in California. These include:
- The Addiction Counselors Certification Board of California
- The California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals (CCAPP)
- The California Association of DUI Treatment Programs
- The California Association for Drug/Alcohol Educators (CAADE)
In order to start your training, you need to meet a bunch of requirements. This includes your educational background and personal background, but the requirements vary depending on which state you want to practice in.
You must have graduated from high school before enrolling in a college degree scheme. From here, you will receive the appropriate training and certification. Different certificates or colleges may also ask for specific grades or subjects.
If you already have a bachelor’s or master’s degree, you still need certificate training to become a counselor. This involves further training in a certification arena, which will provide you with specific skills for the job.
Anyone who wants to work in private practice counseling must have a master’s degree. Working in private practice means you will have less supervision over your work, so you require more education. Master’s degrees in mental health or psychology can be beneficial for counselors.
But it isn’t just about your education. Some programs view the personal experience of addiction as a valuable experience for a counselor. This includes recovering addicts or someone who has helped a recovering addict previously.
So if you’re looking to get back on your feet following addiction, this could be an excellent option for you!
Benefits of Becoming a Substance Abuse Counselor with the CCAPP
CCAPP offers a gold standard of addiction counseling certification in California. So it comes with a lot of benefits.
The CCAPP certification can offer specialized training to counselors if they want to pursue it.
They work with the Hazelden Betty Ford rehabilitation clinic to offer specific training. This clinic focuses on treating co-occurring disorders. This is when substance abuse and co-occurring disorders like depression or OCD co-occur.
They have also paired up with the Distance Learning Center for Addiction Studies. This means they can offer online training to anyone who wants to continue their training remotely.
Expanding your study area in this way will help to build your skillset for specific patients. It means you will combine these into your regular practice and help more people.
With CCAPP certification, you’re ahead of the game. Employers know that anyone with CCAPP training has an excellent education and the skills to succeed.
What Does a Substance Abuse Counselor Degree Involve?
Training as a substance abuse counselor combines education with on-the-job or clinical experience. After all, you need to know how to put your skills into practice.
You will learn the fundamentals of counseling. These include understanding counseling ethics, professionalism, and patient confidentiality laws. This also involves learning how counseling works in different settings, such as in prison, recovery centers, or private practice.
The program will also teach you about how addiction works. You will study influencing factors in addiction, such as socioeconomic status, to understand this. And you will learn about the relationship between substance abuse and the brain.
In addition to this, you’ll also learn vital practical skills for being a counselor. These include:
- Communication techniques to use with patients and their families or friends
- Crisis response procedures
- Problem-solving techniques
- Different types of addiction treatment
- Strategies for preventing relapse
- Different types of counseling (for example, group counseling vs. private sessions, activity-led sessions)
- How to develop your personal and professional skills
- Understanding counseling services (for example, the administrative side of counseling)
Bringing together and combining these skills makes a successful and effective substance abuse counselor. You will need to identify different types of addiction in people who don’t understand them and offer the appropriate treatment.
Learning effective communication techniques is critical. It’s something you’ll get the opportunity to observe and then apply into practice yourself regularly.
Working with a group can be a daunting task for anyone. So your training and experience will teach you valuable leadership and communication skills.
Throughout your training, you will contact experienced tutors and mentors. It’s important to utilize this service to feel supported both intellectually and emotionally.
The Bottom Line
If you want to become a substance abuse counselor, getting CCAPP certification is an absolute advantage. This means you will receive the required training in California, and you’ll be able to offer the best treatment possible.
To find out more about our CCAPP-approved program, check out our overview. Or, if you have any questions, get in touch today. We’re here to help!
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