Drug Counselor Career Info and Education Requirements

Drug counselors work with patients on an individual or group basis to help them work through many kinds of substance abuse problems. They assist patients as well as friends and families of patients with coping methods and recovery programs. Drug counselors must be licensed by the state where they work, which usually requires at least a master's degree.

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Drug Counselor Career Info

Drug counselors, also known as substance abuse counselors or behavioral disorder counselors, usually assist individuals in controlling their addiction to drugs or alcohol. However, a drug counselor may also help patients with gambling problems or eating disorders. Usually, drug counselors perform therapy in a group setting, but individual counseling may be used if necessary. These therapy sessions allow a drug counselor to help people suffering from addictions identify problems the addiction causes.

Drug counselors must be available for their patients in moments of weakness. In addition to scheduled therapy sessions, a drug counselor performs emergency crisis-counseling sessions and is expected to sometimes take drop-in patients who need support therapy. Drug counselors work closely with patients to put together customized programs that aid in recovery.

Substance abuse affects more than just a patient, and a drug counselor is trained to understand the effects on the people close to the addict. Drug counselors work with patients' family and friends, teaching coping methods and ways loved ones can help the patient's healing process. Some drug counselors also start community outreach programs to try and prevent future substance abuse problems.

Education Requirements

While obtaining a position as a drug counselor in the United States has different requirements depending on the state of practice, it is typically necessary for a drug counselor to have a master's degree. The Master of Science in Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counseling is a possible option, and many schools that don't offer that exact degree program will offer master's programs in counseling that emphasize substance abuse education.

Every state requires counselors to have a license before they can practice; however, like the degree requirement, licensure procedures vary from state to state. Upon obtaining licensure, it is not uncommon for drug counselors to be heavily monitored or directly employed by state and federal government agencies.

The National Board for Certified Counselors offers an optional certification process for drug counselors. Those who pass the certification can earn the title of National Certified Counselor. This certification process is not mandatory in any state, but obtaining certification can greatly enhance employment opportunities.

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