How To Become a Drug and Alcohol Counselor

Teenager in counseling

Drug and alcohol counselors can get a great start in their educations with online psychology classes. One of the nation's fastest growing occupations is drug and alcohol counseling. This is not a surprise, as statistics show that more than 20 million people annually suffer from alcohol and drug dependency. Alcohol and drug counselor's typically work in hospitals, government programs, jails and prisons, homeless shelters, half way houses, schools and private practices. Drug and alcohol counselors must possess the following characteristics: patience, compassion, understanding, respect and the ability to motivate.  If you enjoy guiding people and helping them be all that they can be then you might just find this occupation rewarding in every way.

In order to obtain a license in social services you must have a master’s degree in either psychology or counseling, although licensing requirements vary in states. There are many classes you must take in order to be successful in your courses. Some of the classes are: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Criminal Law, Opiate and Stimulant Education, Motivational Interviewing and Alcohol and Sedative and Hallucinogens Education.  Typically, in order to get your masters degree you must attend college for one and half to three years. Of course, this also depends on whether you are attending school part time or full time. Most states require students to attend supervised clinical setting time as well as passing written tests and oral exams. This process could take a while so patience is necessary. Also on top of the schooling it is necessary for counselors to attend annual training in workshops to maintain their license.

Drug and alcohol counselors are trained to help patients recognize their behavior and how it effects their addictions. Most of the time the counselor works with the patient in reducing their use of alcohol or drugs and then assists the patient in helping them quit all together.  Counseling is in either a one on one atmosphere with the patient or in a group setting. Many counselors and patients enjoy group setting atmospheres as each addict can share their experience and share techniques they have learned to overcome their addictions. Group settings help patients understand that they are not alone and it is nothing to be ashamed of.  Some counselors also conduct programs to help prevent future addictions. Quite often, counselors will invite family members of the person suffering from addiction to some of the sessions.

Most drug and alcohol counselors earn between $27,330 and $42,650 annually but there are some that earn well over 50,000 annually. The working hours can vary depending on patients needs. Some counselors do work weekends as well as evenings as most group setting therapy is scheduled for evenings, after work and daily activities which makes it easier for the patient to attend. Although this job might sometimes get the best of you, it is a great way to give back to society and help others in need.


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