How can I Become an Addictions Counselor?

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how-can-i-become-an-addictions-counselorBeing an addictions counselor is a fulfilling career that enables professionals to help struggling teens and adults overcome substance abuse problems. While performing the job duties can be tough at times, many addictions counselors find that helping marginalized addicts is very rewarding. Below explains how to become an addictions counselor.

The Addiction Crisis

Tobacco, alcohol and drug abuse costs the U.S. hundreds of billion of dollars every year because of crime, health care costs and missed work.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, almost 10 percent of the population over 12 years old has tried a drug within the previous month. Marijuana and methamphetamine use is growing at an alarming rate. Drug use rates are highest among adolescents and younger adults. In fact, drug use rates among older adults are on the rise and there is a serious “treatment gap” in America. That is, approximately nine percent of the population need addiction treatment, but only one percent receives it at a treatment facility.

What Do Addiction Counselors Do?

Addiction counselors work with individuals and groups to help them overcome their substance abuse problems. This is accomplished through assessing the needs of the client, helping the client set goals and providing important resources. For example, many addiction counselors host group meetings and connect their clients with community resources. Addiction counselors help their clients identify inappropriate and unhelpful behaviors and thought patterns that contribute to their lifestyle choices. They also teach their clients important coping skills and positive mental techniques.

Where Do Addiction Counselors Work?

They work in a variety of settings, such as treatment, correctional and health care facilities. Addiction counselors also work for the government through state social service agencies. Chronic drug abuse is often associated with residential, employment and lifestyle instability that leads to Child Welfare intervention.

What are the Educational Requirements?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the educational requirements for a substance abuse counselor vary. Eentry level addiction counselor assistants may only need a high school diploma or bachelor’s degree. However, addictions counselors who provide one-on-one therapeutic counseling must hold a master’s degree.

*The Online Master of Arts in Counseling from the Family Institute at Northwestern University is designed to provide a foundation in traditional counseling practices, while integrating the psychodynamic perspective and promoting life-long learning through reflective practice. This innovative MA program in counseling provides an uncompromising educational experience that includes an immersive clinical practicum, local internships, and a Bridge to Counseling option for students preparing to enter the field for the first time.

Request information today to learn more about earning a Master of Arts in Counseling online through Northwestern University.


Argosy University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology – Substance Abuse Concentration.Click here to contact Argosy University and request information about their programs.

Kaplan University offers a MSPY – Addictions. Click here to contact Kaplan University and request information about their programs.

Kaplan University offers a Bachelor of Science in Psychology in Addictions. Click here to contact Kaplan University and request information about their programs.

Every state has its own specific licensure requirements. Almost all states require addiction counselors who provide therapeutic services to complete between 2,000 to 4,000 hours of supervised experience in a clinic. Once certified by the state, there are annual continuing education requirements. Most addiction counselors obtain national certification through the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC).

Who is the National Board for Certified Counselors?

The National Board for Certified Counselors is the premier certification organization for mental health counselors. They are an international organization with certified counselors in over 40 countries. Their goal is to ensure quality counseling and standard certifications. Addiction counselors are advised to obtain the National Counselor Certification (NCC) from the NBCC. While this is not a legal license, this demonstrates that the practitioner meets the highest professional counseling standards. In order to qualify for the NCC, the individual must have a master’s degree with 3,000 hours of clinical experience.

Addiction counselors provide critical help to individuals with substance abuse problems. While addiction counselors may work in different settings, they all provide professional counseling to help addicts recover. There is a growing need for competent addictions counselor to combat the increasing substance abuse problem in America.

See also: 50 Most Affordable Selective Small Colleges for a Psychology Degree


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