Addiction counseling is a process in which a person helps another individual to cease destructive behaviors. The counselor uses a number of strategies to help a person to use healthy practices to cease negative cyclic activities. Professionals mostly use addiction counseling with drug abuse problems. However, several types of addictions exist. An addiction counselor may help people to recover from relationship addiction, internet addiction, gambling addiction and more. The main goals in this field are to assess the persons’ behaviors, identify the roots of such behaviors, and develop a strategy for change and growth.
As an addiction counselor, you will learn how to spot a person who has an addiction. You will have the ability to break through the communication barriers so that the affected party will see the positive aspect of change. Additionally, you will have a clear idea of a person’s risk of developing further addictions. Knowing such risks will not only help you to develop prevention strategies, but also it will help the patient to recognize triggers that may bring on destructive episodes. For example, you may find in your sessions that a particular client suffered trauma during childhood. You will use this information to teach the individual the mechanics of his or her psyche, so that he or she can manipulate it to make positive decisions.
To become an addiction counselor, you will need to obtain an education in a relevant field. Additionally, you may have to earn a specific type of certification to practice what you learned. In certain areas, you may also have to practice for a number of hours in a relevant facility. Fields that are relevant to addiction counseling are nursing and social psychology. The field of nursing is the practice of caring for sick people. Studies in this field would teach you how to recognize illness symptoms and how to solve them. You might learn how to take vital signs or recognize if a person is experiencing an overdose or withdrawal symptoms. Additionally, you may learn about various medications and therapies.
The field of social psychology is the practice of analyzing people’s attitudes, thoughts and behaviors around other people. To be an effective addiction counselor, you will have to obtain the bulk of your education in the social psychology field. You will come to understand certain problems that develop in society and how to deal with each problem. Examples of social problems are bullying, substance abuse, family issues, domestic problems, and criminal activity.
To become an addiction counselor, you will need a bachelor’s degree or above in a relevant field. After you obtain your degree, you will then complete one to two years of post-graduate training. Lastly, you will obtain the certification that you need to practice legally in the field.
The salary of an addiction counselor depends greatly on a number of factors. Such factors include the area in which one works, the individual employer, level of training, and the type of practice. The average salary for an addiction counselor is approximately $47,000 per year as of June of 2013. International abuse counselors can earn up to $78,000 while a basic alcohol and drug counselor can earn approximately $38,000. Having special and unique expertise can increase one’s salary. Additionally, people who own their own practices will earn more than people who work for other companies and organizations.
The career outlook for this field is positive because the number of people with drug addictions and other destructive behaviors is continuously on the rise. The addiction counseling field is expected to grow by approximately 21 percent over the next five years. Therefore, a person who obtains a solid education in this field should have no problem finding a job within a brief time.
Addiction counselors work for a wide variety of establishments. Such individuals usually find employment within hospitals, schools, addiction treatment centers, and community outreach centers. A typical day for an addiction counselor would begin with an assessment of a client. An initial consultation might consist of the counselor asking the client a number of questions that explain more about the person’s current addiction problem. The assessment may involve questions about the person’s childhood experiences, frequency of drug use, family mental health history, criminal background, current coping strategies, employment situation, housing situation and more. The main job of the addiction counselor is to analyze the person’s overall lifestyle and connect him or her with services that can improve such a lifestyle.
Once the counselor breaks the ice with the client, he or she would then search for services and programs that would help the client rid himself or herself of addiction. The addiction counselor may refer the person to a psychiatrist, rehabilitation facility, therapist, or training center based on his or her findings. He or she may also personally conduct the therapy that the person needs. The course the addiction counselor chooses to take depends on the client’s willingness to work with him or her, the comfort level, and the counselor’s faith in his or her own abilities. This person will make a decision that is best for the client and most likely to aid in his or her recovery.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: This site provides a wide variety of resources that help to reduce substance abuse problems in the United States. It contains links to relevant news reports, grant information and other data.
National Institute of Drug Abuse: This site provides information on the science of drug abuse and addiction. A person can find links to funding opportunities, news reports, statistics, videos and research findings.
Addiction Today: This journal contains some self-help resources and various information about innovative drug treatment methods.
National Association for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors: This site provides support for individuals within the drug and alcohol addiction field. A person can gain insight on obtaining certifications in a relevant field. He or she can also conduct studies and take quizzes.