How to Become a Drug and Alcohol Abuse Counselor

How to Become a Drug and Alcohol Abuse Counselor

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Addiction affects every aspect of a person’s life. Their thoughts, actions, and emotional reactions change in response to drug and alcohol abuse. Addiction often changes a person from acting differently than they would while sober. 

Finances, relationships, jobs, self-identity, and quality of life diminish with drug and alcohol abuse. 

If substance abuse has affected you and you want to help the millions of people struggling with substance use, becoming a drug and alcohol abuse counselor may be the career choice for you to consider. Read on to understand what a drug and alcohol abuse counselor entails and how to become certified. 

What is a Drug and Alcohol Abuse Counselor?

A drug and alcohol abuse counselor is sometimes known as a substance abuse counselor. They help people struggling with substance use. They work with their support system to help them get the resources they need to overcome their battles.

Substance abuse counselors work with people who may have varying mental illnesses. Counselors sometimes help people with trauma and emotional disorders. 

Substance abuse counselors tend to have training in many types of therapy techniques. They recognize what kind of therapy works best with each patient and help execute it.

They may support individual or group therapy sessions, along with family sessions. These sessions help mend emotional distress and imbalanced relationships as a result of substance use. 

Counselors’ main aim is usually to get to the root of the addiction. This involves tracing a patient’s triggers to the source of the problem. They assist patients in processing new information discovered through therapy sessions.

Counselors also provide resources to patients and their loved ones for more support. This process involves referring them to other counselors or support groups. They might give them reading material and suggest new habits to use as coping mechanisms. 

A drug and alcohol counselor works in many different settings. Some set up their practices. Others work in prisons, hospitals, detox centers, or juvenile detention facilities. 

They also work with other professionals in psychology. This includes psychiatrists, school counselors, and social workers. 

Skills of counselors include being wise, compassionate, unbiased. Counselors use critical thinking and reasoning and stay organized and disciplined. Counselors are aware of warning signs of substance abuse. They recognize different mental illnesses and offer resources that lead to self-betterment. 

How to Become a Counselor

To become a certified drug and alcohol counselor, you should consider going through a program that offers an official board’s recognition. Some of the boards are the following: 

  • Addiction Counselors Certification Board of California
  • California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals (CCAPP)
  • California Association for Drug/Alcohol Educators (CAADE)

The addiction counselors certification board of California is among one of CAADE’s certifying organizations. CCAPP is a statewide organization for substance use treatment agencies and professionals. 

For any certificate you get online, make sure it has these qualifications. The verification from these organizations is crucial for receiving a drug and alcohol counselor degree. Through these organizations, you can find resources for a drug and alcohol counselor certification online.

While certifications help qualify you for a substance abuse counselor position, they do not count as formal education. Pursuing a bachelor’s degree is another option that may help propel your career forward even more.

It would be best if you considered getting an alcohol and substance use certificate in addition to a bachelor’s or associate’s degree. Having a certificate does not replace this degree. And, not having a certificate gives you more limited career opportunities.

Getting a certificate is one of the first steps you may consider to become a substance abuse counselor. In most cases, a background check is required,  in addition to completing a certain number of supervised clinical hours.

Benefits of Having a Certificate

There are many benefits to having an official certificate. Having the certificate training may give you the proper training to deal with any potential problems that arise with helping addicts.

Working with addicts is rewarding and keeps you on your toes. Having a certificate may help give you the boost and confidence you may need to work well with people in need and may involve specialized training.   

This specialized education informs you on how to treat people with co-existing mental illnesses. You’ll understand how to give individualized treatment options to each patient. And you’ll have the knowledge to tend to patients more to their benefit. 

Becoming a certified alcohol and drug abuse counselor may provide opportunities for different jobs. Your resume may be sought after due to how much formal training you have. This means there may be less competition getting jobs. You will also have more experience in your field of expertise. 

With higher education plus a certificate, you might have the opportunity to earn a higher salary. Money is usually not the reason people pursue certificates for substance abuse counseling. The more qualifications and experience you gain, the better off you will be in your field of work.

Get Your Certificate Now

With all this information to consider, there seems to be no reason you shouldn’t consider going after a certificate to be a drug and alcohol abuse counselor. The work is satisfying and rewarding, as it impacts the lives of many people for the better. 

You get to see the transformation within an addict’s life. Their mental and emotional development is dependent on the services that are provided. If you want to take it on, this is quite the responsibility and challenge; check out how to get a drug and alcohol abuse certificate online now.

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