Substance Abuse Counselor

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Substance abuse counseling is a demanding form of community outreach that requires patience, compassion, and a keen desire to help others who in crisis. A good portion of the addict population are people who need help in many areas of their lives. Often these people are unaware of the kinds of assistance available, whether they are eligible, or how to go about finding help. Counselors refer patients to a variety of other services that may help provide a stable platform from which they can fight their drug addiction. The abuser may be directed to a family agency, food pantry, physician or psychiatrist, vocational training center, lawyer, welfare agent or other professionals depending on the needs of the individual.

Counselors see people in both group and private sessions. Each case varies according to the personality of the individual. In the words of one counselor, “You never know what will come up. I spend a lot my time making referrals, but most of what I do is crisis intervention.” Crisis intervention demands a sympathetic, nonjudgmental attitude and a supportive approach no matter what situation the addict is in, and, as one counselor put it, “You see everything.”

Many people who are drawn to this career have deep-seated personal or religious beliefs about its social value. Between drug addiction and the range of other problems that often accompany it, such as homelessness, mental illness, and AIDS, death is an unfortunately common sight. One of the great challenges of this noble avocation is learning to control emotions of anger, frustration and even bonds of friendship that can undermine the counselor-patient relationship.

Career Outlook: 
Career Outlook data is specific to New Hampshire State.
Number of Jobs 2010: 
231
Number of Projected Jobs 2020: 
273
Jobs Percentage Change: 
0.2%
Total Annual Openings: 
9
Growth Outlook: 
Very Favorable
June 2013 Entry Level Wage: 
$13.31
June 2013 Mean Wage: 
$18.54
June 2013 Experienced Wage: 
$21.15
Salary Range: 
$20,000 - $40,000
Education Requirements: 
Programs: 
Time to Complete: 
2 years

Education Levels:

Time to Complete: 
2 years

Education Levels:

Time to Complete: 
2 years

Education Levels:

Online Options: 
Partial

Education Levels:

Education Levels:

License and Certification Requirements: 
Coding Certification Required: 
Yes
Coding License Required: 
No
Certification(s) Required: 
Yes
List of Required Certifications: 
Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (LADC)
Certification Requirements: 
To be certified you must pass testing procedures of a nationally recognized credentialing entity. Additionally you need either an associate's degree in substance use counseling, addiction studies, or equivalent program; a minimum of 270 hours of training and education; 6,000 hours of supervised alcohol and drug abuse work experience; 300 hours of supervised practical training OR a bachelor's degree in a clinical mental health, social work, psychology, substance use counseling, addiction studies, human services discipline, or equivalent program; 270 hours of alcohol and drug use education within the degree-granting program or separately completed 4,000 hours of supervised work experience, and completed 300 hours of supervised practical training within the degree-granting program, as part of the supervised work experience or separately.
Career Categories: 

Types of Work:

Workplace Environment: 
Community-Based Setting or Patients' Homes
Private Medical Practice or Private Company
School or Institution
Types of Interaction: 
Direct Patient Interaction
Independently