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5 Career Settings for Drug and Alcohol Counselors

What is a Drug and Alcohol Counselor?

Mental health professionals are extremely important members of society. Having readily available, highly educated and trained professionals to offer their mental health counseling services to those in need is a necessity, not a luxury. This is especially true for alcohol and drug counselors. Often times also referred to as addiction counselors, these counselors work hard to help their patients overcome their problem behaviors through varying treatment plans. Overcoming alcohol and drug addiction is very difficult so having a counselor who prioritizes patient care is a top priority for anybody struggling. This is especially true for those without family members.

There are different types of alcohol and drug counseling options available for those struggling with alcohol and drug abuse. This means that a licensed counselor have many career options to pick from when it comes to offering treatment and counseling services to patients.

Prime Career Settings for Drug and Alcohol Counselors

  • General Hospitals and Medical Centers
  • Drug and Alcohol Recovery Centers
  • Schools
  • Private Practice
  • Mental Health Centers

Alcohol and drug counselors are part of a broader cohort of substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors. According to labor statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, this cohort of mental health counselors is expected to see a 22 percent increase in jobs between now and 2028, significantly above the national overall increase in jobs generally during that same time period. Keep reading to learning about the five prime career settings for people with an education in drug and alcohol counseling.

1. General Hospitals and Medical Centers

A prime setting for drug and alcohol counselors is hospitals and medical centers across the country. These professionals provide treatment in substance abuse recovery units maintained in certain hospitals and medical centers. These professionals are also present on the staff of emergency departments to address the significant number of people admitted as a result of substance abuse or addiction-related issues.

2. Drug and Alcohol Recovery Centers

Drug and alcohol counselors are the primary type of treatment professional at a typical recovery center. This includes residential and nonresidential substance abuse and addiction treatment programs. In addition, community health centers also employ drug and alcohol counselors to assist people with limited financial resources in need of substance abuse and addiction treatment. Often times, counselors run support group on top of offering one on one care.

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3. Schools

The availability of drug and alcohol counselors to school-aged children where they attend school is part of a comprehensive effort to keep young people healthy, according to American Family Physician. Consequently, another setting in which the need for talented drug and alcohol counselors is growing in middle and high schools across the country. In addition, drug and alcohol counselors are also being made available at the elementary school level as well, in part to educate students but also to respond to the fact that there are students in this younger age group that are using mind-altering substances.

4. Private Practice

Another setting for drug and alcohol counselors is a private practice. Electing to “put up a shingle” and go into private practice directly after obtaining a degree or certification is challenging. Many people with a drug and alcohol counseling education elect to work in another setting before making the move into this career setting.

5. Mental Health Treatment Centers

In addition to drug and alcohol recovery centers, facilities that focus on treating people with mental health conditions also rely on the professional assistance of drug and alcohol counselors. The reality is that many people with an identified mental health condition also have a substance abuse or addiction diagnosis. Technically speaking, this is known as a dual diagnosis of mental health and substance abuse conditions. Consequently, in order to comprehensively appropriately assist people via a mental health treatment center, the involvement of drug and alcohol counselors is vital.

Looking to Become a Drug and Alcohol Counselor?

While a high school degree will never be enough education for this type of work, various entry-level positions are available for individuals who’ve obtained a bachelor’s degree. With that said, a broader range of job prospects exists for individuals who obtain an advanced degree such as a master’s degree in drug and alcohol counseling as well as in social work.

Related Resources:

How is the Job Outlook for Drug and Alcohol Counselors?

5 Conferences for Drug and Alcohol Counselors

5 Great Books for Substance Abuse Counselors