Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors provide treatment and support to people with alcoholism, eating disorders, and other types of addiction and behavioral problems. They may work with other health and mental health professionals to help treat clients and patients. Some of the many job responsibilities of substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors include:
- Evaluating a client's mental and physical health and determining a course of treatment for their addiction or disorder
- Helping clients develop the skills necessary to cope with their addiction
- Counseling families to help them understand how to deal with a loved one's addiction or behavioral disorder
- Referring clients to job placement services and support groups
The BLS reports that employment for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors is expected to grow by 27% from 2010 to 2020. More judges are choosing to sentence drug offenders to treatment programs as opposed to just straight prison time. This trend, along with the general population growth, is stimulating the demand for counselors.
Job Growth for
Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselor
- Annual Pay National Average
- Hourly Pay National Average
Becoming a Substance Abuse and Behavioral Disorder Counselor
Degree requirements for a career as a substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselor vary depending on the type of treatment and counseling, work setting, and state licensing and certification regulations. Counselors with an education beyond a high school diploma or with additional, specialized training will enjoy more opportunities for career advancement. Many degree programs in counseling allow students to choose a concentration in an area of counseling, such as child abuse recognition or domestic violence counseling.
Many schools offer on-campus, hybrid, and/or online bachelor's degrees in counseling. Various master's degree programs in mental health and substance abuse counseling are available as well. The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) is recognized by the Council of Higher Education Accreditation to accredit master's degree programs in addiction counseling and clinical mental health counseling. Students may choose to pursue a general master's degree in psychology or social work along with certification in substance abuse counseling. A sampling of classes you may take in a bachelor's program, drawn from the course listings for the University of Cincinnati's distance learning bachelor degree program in substance abuse counseling, include the following:
- Introduction to Psychology
- Introduction to Counseling
- Crisis Management in Therapy
- Ethics in Chemical Dependency Counseling
Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors must be state-licensed for private practice. Licensure for private practice requires a master's degree, 2,000 to 3,000 of supervised clinical work experience, passing a state-recognized exam, and completing annual continuing education requirements. The National Board of Certified Counselors provides contact information for each state's regulating board. Licensure or certification requirements for substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors outside of private practice vary by state. The Addiction Technology Transfer Center provides basic state-specific licensing and certification information for drug and alcohol counselors.