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Substance Abuse Counselor

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What is a Substance Abuse Counselor?

Example of Substance Abuse Counselor Job Counsel and advise individuals with alcohol, tobacco, drug, or other problems, such as gambling and eating disorders. May counsel individuals, families, or groups or engage in prevention programs.

Life As a Substance Abuse Counselor

  • Intervene as an advocate for clients or patients to resolve emergency problems in crisis situations.
  • Provide clients or family members with information about addiction issues and about available services or programs, making appropriate referrals when necessary.
  • Develop client treatment plans based on research, clinical experience, and client histories.
  • Modify treatment plans to comply with changes in client status.
  • Follow progress of discharged patients to determine effectiveness of treatments.
  • Act as liaisons between clients and medical staff.

Things a Substance Abuse Counselor Should Know How to Do

When polled, Substance Abuse Counselors say the following skills are most frequently used in their jobs:

Active Listening: Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Social Perceptiveness: Being aware of others’ reactions and understanding why they react as they do.

Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Reading Comprehension: Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Service Orientation: Actively looking for ways to help people.

  • Certified Drug Counselor
  • Domestic Violence Advocate
  • Primary Substance Abuse Counselor
  • Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (ADAC)
  • Addictions Counselor

What Kind of Substance Abuse Counselor Job Opportunities Are There?

In 2016, there was an estimated number of 102,400 jobs in the United States for Substance Abuse Counselor. New jobs are being produced at a rate of 23.2% which is above the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 23,800 new jobs for Substance Abuse Counselor by 2026. The BLS estimates 14,100 yearly job openings in this field.

Forecasted Number of Jobs for Substance Abuse Counselors in U.S.

The states with the most job growth for Substance Abuse Counselor are Utah, Arizona, and Colorado. Watch out if you plan on working in Rhode Island, Maine, or Idaho. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

Tools & Technologies Used by Substance Abuse Counselors

Below is a list of the types of tools and technologies that Substance Abuse Counselors may use on a daily basis:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Office
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Web browser software
  • Email software
  • Word processing software
  • Spreadsheet software
  • Database software
  • Scheduling software
  • Statistical software
  • Presentation software
  • IBM Lotus Notes
  • Case management software
  • Athena Software Penelope Case Management
  • Addison Health Systems WritePad EMR Systems
  • Practice Technology Prevail

Becoming a Substance Abuse Counselor

What education or degrees do I need to become a Substance Abuse Counselor?

Substance Abuse Counselor Degree Level

How many years of work experience do I need?

Substance Abuse Counselor Work Experience

You May Also Be Interested In…

Those interested in being a Substance Abuse Counselor may also be interested in:

Those who work as a Substance Abuse Counselor sometimes switch careers to one of these choices:


Image Credit: Staff Sgt. Katie Spencer via Public domain

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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