Substance use disorders remain one of the most prevalent health problems in America. If you have overcome addiction through a residential treatment program and want to pay it forward by becoming a counselor, here’s what you need to know about this rewarding career pathway.
What Do Addiction Counselors Do?
Substance abuse counselors provide personalized care and support to people who struggle with various mental and behavioral health disorders. They develop tailored treatment plans and equip people with coping skills to manage complex emotions. Many addiction counselors also offer therapy for groups, families and couples, facilitating healing through peer discussions.
A few traits make counselors especially effective. For example, you should also be a compassionate, empathetic listener with excellent communication skills. To establish trust with your patients, you’ll need to validate their concerns while being non-judgmental.
While addiction is incurable, evidence-based therapies can help people learn to manage their illness and live a happier, healthier life. For many people living with substance use disorders, addiction counselors are the vital link to recovery. Trained substance abuse counselors are experts at identifying the underlying causes of addiction and helping patients prevent a return to drinking or drug use.
What Does It Take to Become an Addiction Counselor?
The demand for qualified substance abuse counselors has grown alongside awareness of mental and behavioral health disorders. Addiction counseling requires specialized education, training and work experience. You’ll need to log practice hours and meet other state requirements to earn your license.
If you’re ready to pursue addiction counseling as a career, it’s time to start planning how you will fulfill your educational requirements, clinical experience and other credentials you’ll need for certification or licensure. First, look up the necessary requirements to become a certified addiction counselor in your state and compare them to any educational programs you’re considering. You can also connect with someone who practices counseling near you and ask them to mentor you. Their experience could be invaluable in helping you navigate the process.
To become licensed or certified as an alcohol and drug counselor, you will likely need to pass one or more exams. You might also need to complete a supervised internship after earning your degree. Check your state’s regulatory board to be sure. If you want to offer telehealth to clients in multiple states, you may need to maintain credentials in each.
Continuing Education for Substance Use Counselors
As a profession, addiction counseling promotes lifelong education and growth. The techniques and best practices are always evolving, and you’ll want to keep pace with them. Continuing education is essential to maintain your professional counseling licensure or certification and stay abreast of any new developments in your field.
At Vista Taos, we offer accredited addiction education and CEUs for professionals. We also hire people in recovery to join our talented team because they understand the unique experience of being on this journey, positioning them to help others overcome addiction with what they’ve learned. For questions about registering for these courses, contact Lilan Lawrence-Metzler.