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Did you know the need for substance abuse counselors is growing faster than most other occupations in the U.S.?
As of April 2016, the Department of Labor projects a 23 percent growth rate between 2016 and 2026. The reason for this growth is two-fold.
First, more people are seeking addiction counseling services. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health in the U.S. revealed that 21.5 million people deal with substance abuse. The Affordable Care Act makes insurers cover people who need help. People who could not afford the cost of counseling before are getting treatment.
Second, the justice system recognized addicts who get treatment aren’t as likely to repeat criminal offenses. More states choose treatment and counseling over jail time for drug offenders. Sentencing often requires attendance in treatment and counseling programs.
Now is a good time to pursue a career in substance abuse counseling. Join a growing field and help people who need addiction counselors. Keep reading to learn the details of the job. Then, we’ll dive into the education requirements and CCAPP certification.
Where do substance abuse counselors work?
Many are employed in hospitals, prisons, and drug rehabilitation centers. They also work in private practice.
The job is to help people with substance abuse and addiction problems. It’s done with counseling and treatment options.
A substance abuse counselor helps the patient change patterns of behavior. They teach coping strategies and life skills that aid in recovery.
Drug counselors have a challenging job. They are working with people struggling to break free from addiction. The patient and counselor can experience major stress and strong emotions.
A successful counselor must be compassionate and empathetic. They must have excellent listening and speaking skills. They also must be patient. Organizational skills are an asset in this job. Maintaining required records is a must.
Sometimes a counselor must work nights and weekends. This happens in a treatment centers and private practice. Often, a counselor works with many patients at once.
In some situations, a treatment program considers past experience with addiction a benefit. That’s because firsthand experience gives counselors advanced understanding and empathy.
In programs based on Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) many counselors are addicts in recovery. Or, they have personal experience dealing with someone else’s addiction.
The job requirements depend on the treatment program and the agency in charge. Sometimes, a high school diploma and certification are the only requirements. In other situations, a counselor needs a bachelor’s or master’s degree. The educational requirements often depend on the state in which you plan to work.
The first educational rule is to complete your high school education. After graduation, you can enroll in a degree training program or certificate program at a college. How much education you will need depends on the state in which you plan to work.
Counselors with a bachelor’s or master’s degree may need additional training to meet certification requirements. People with only a high school degree will need more training. Training is in an alcohol and drug counseling certificate program and on the job.
You can expect to learn the following in a CCAPP accredited program:
- Counseling Skills
- Crisis Response
- Patient Privacy and Confidentiality
- Client Communication
- How to Provide Services
- Related Administrative Tasks
Requirements for counselors not in private practice are different in each state.
In some states, a counselor needs a license to provide substance abuse services. Check with the state licensing board in the state where you want to work to see the requirements.
In California, it’s essential to choose a CCAPP accredited program. This ensures you get the education and skills you need and that you can qualify to sit for the certification examination. Certification credentials go a long way with a hiring manager too.
If you intend to go into private practice, you may need a Master’s degree. Counselors with more education need less supervision. Many drug and alcohol counselors pursue a degree in mental health or psychology. This is helpful because of the connection between addiction and mental health issues.
CCAPP Accredited Educational Programs
The California Department of Health Care Services recognizes the California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals (CCAPP) as an accredited organization.
CCAPP can register and certify alcohol and drug counselors in California. It’s the largest consortium of community-based treatment agencies and professionals in the state.
These residential, outpatient and private services help over 100,000 California residents annually. The consortium includes both for-profit and nonprofit service providers.
What to Expect from an Accredited Program
The InterCoast Alcohol & Drug Counseling Studies Program is an accredited certificate program. InterCoast also has an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Substance Use Disorder Counseling.
CCAPP-certified graduates are ready to serve the community. Professionals in the alcohol and drug counseling field are dependable, positive, optimistic people. It’s a community of empathetic, focused professionals. They’re determined to help clients meet their goals.
An accredited program gives students the importance of ethics and professionalism. It provides hands-on techniques and skills needed to perform well.
- These studies include:
- Fundamentals of Counseling
- Addiction Treatment
- Relapse Prevention
- Relevant Law
- The Relationship Between Drugs and the Brain
- Personal and Professional Development Skills
- Clinical Internship
Students learn — and practice — skills that serve them in many areas of alcohol and drug abuse counseling through the clinical internship experience which is part of the curriculum. Top of the list is communication with clients and families. Counselors learn how to help with treatment and provide education on substance use.
They learn to lead counseling groups. They focus on problem-solving, psycho-educational, and activity groups.
Classes include maintenance of medical records related to privacy, regulations, and the law. Students learn how to teach clients coping skills to prevent relapses. They also study culturally relevant counseling techniques.
Graduates can assist in entry-level positions in many treatment situations. Jobs include Alcohol and Drug Counselor, Addiction Counselor, and Intake Coordinator to name a few.
Begin Your Career at InterCoast
Consider InterCoast if you want to help people with alcohol and drug addictions. You can make the world a better place as a professional Alcohol and Drug Counselor.
Click here to get more information about becoming a substance abuse counselor. We can answer your questions about CCAPP certification and other study programs. We look forward to helping you to help others.