What Does an Addiction Counselor Do?

What addiction counselors doAddiction comes in many forms and can revolve around drugs, alcohol, gambling and other behaviors. Regardless of its focus, addiction has a serious impact on an individual’s health and well-being. Addiction affects not only the addict but also that person’s family, friends, employers and the community at large. Every person that an addict encounters feels the effects of addiction in one form or another.

Most addictions have root causes that led to addictive behavior. In addition, addicts usually experience triggers that encourage the addictive behavior. Since the addiction has impacted every part of the addict’s life, addiction counseling must treat the entire person, habits and behaviors. An addiction counselor helps identify psychological factors that contribute to the addiction and works with clients to not only rid themselves of the chemical components of addiction but also to work through the emotional issues surrounding their behavior.

Is a Degree Required to Become an Addiction Counselor?

While different counselor positions require varying levels of education and certifications, most addiction counselors obtain an undergraduate degree and many continue on to get their master’s degree. For a person to become a certified addiction counselor, most states require a master’s level diploma as a prerequisite for certification options. During the undergraduate education, a student in addiction counseling may take classes in the following:

  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Clinical assessment
  • Counseling strategies
  • Substance abuse
  • Counseling and evaluation methodologies

What Else Is Required to Become an Addiction Counselor?

The following are three major areas that a person should work on before becoming an addiction counselor:

  • Emotional balance. Working with struggling and recovering individuals is emotionally demanding. An effective addiction counselor needs to be empathetic without being drawn in to their patients’ lives. A healthy and balanced emotional base will make an addiction counselor more effective and allow him or her to avoid career burnout.
  • Interpersonal communications. Addiction counselors often have to interact with individuals who do not want assistance and do not want to be in counseling sessions. Addiction counselors should have the ability to draw patients out with questions, listen carefully and hear what is and is not being said. Having a variety of communication strategies will make an addiction counselor more successful.
  • Effective team interactions. Many addiction counselors work with a team of individuals including medical personnel, social workers and others, making the ability to work in a team environment necessary. Having strong problem-solving skills and the ability to see the big picture from the perspective of each team member will enhance the addiction counselor’s contribution to the rehabilitation process.

What Certifications Does an Addiction Counselor Need?

In many states, counselors must have an addiction counselor license to practice. States typically have their own certification track that can include a combination of examinations, education and practical experience. In addition to the state-mandated requirements, the National Association for Addiction Professionals offers a certification track. These licenses are designed for addiction counselors specializing in drug abuse or alcoholism.

Do You Need an Addiction Counselor?

Are you struggling with addiction? Would you like to find a trained and experienced addiction counselor? Call our toll-free number to receive information about addiction and treatment and recovery services. We are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you may have and connect you with the addiction help you need.