Substance abuse counseling is a rewarding career for anyone who wants to help people who are battling addiction to drugs or alcohol. Counselors find work in therapeutic facilities, hospitals, prisons and halfway homes. They have a choice of working with teens or adults.
The primary function of substance abuse counseling is to help people manage their addictions so they can return to society and function successfully as productive citizens. Substance abuse counseling can also include family members who are affected by an individual’s addiction.
Characteristics of a Substance Abuse Counselor
Substance abuse counselors have a strong desire to help people. They are good communicators both in speaking and writing. Strong writing skills are necessary to complete treatment plans and reports. Their greatest asset is excellent listening skills.
High energy is essential in order to cope with the problems and stress of patients. Patience and compassion are other characteristics needed to be an effective substance abuse counselor. Compassion must be balanced with objectivity in order to give the patient all the help needed to manage addiction.
Education and Training Required
Substance abuse counseling involves psychoanalysis and psychotherapy, rehabilitation, crisis intervention, group counseling, coordinating other supportive services, and managing mental health care assistants and aids.
There is no specific degree that leads to becoming a substance abuse counselor. However, it is suggested that you have a degree in sociology or psychology to better understand the mental and physical effects of addiction.
Substance abuse counseling is predominantly a mental health therapy. A few of the general college courses taught in a substance abuse counseling program include:
Overview of alcoholism and drug abuse
Assessment and evaluation
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