How to Become an Addiction Counselor

The first step in becoming an addiction counselor is achieving the proper education and degree conferment. It isn’t a simple matter of being able to speak comfortably with someone, but to have the extensive knowledge and practical experience to help someone make a serious change in their life. A properly trained counselor has the resources available to support the client’s best interests, including family services and social welfare programs. Treatment is another significant consideration, and a counselor must be prepared for any situation, as every client is different.

How to Become an Addiction Counselor

It starts with a college degree. Some counselors hold a two year associate’s degree in a related field, but as social work of family services. Most however, go on to earn a four year bachelor degree that includes intensive internship experience in real world situations. Some will intern with large hospitals in ether their admitting departments, psyche wards, or, if fortunate enough to have one, an inpatient addiction treatment facility. Courses will include everything from chemistry courses to investigating and understanding the nature of the substances their clients are abusing, and even counseling classes that teach students how to communicate with their clients.

Students during this time can also have opportunities to explore related fields in addiction counseling, such as family services and the criminal justice system. Inevitably, these resources will be called upon by an addiction counselor in the course of helping their clients, so having exposure to them early on in their education is seen as a positive thing.

Types of Addiction Counseling

Addiction counselors work with clients who have an addiction to any number of substances. In fact, it is a rare case where someone being counseled has only one substance that needs attention. Drug addicts may have a whole host of pharmacological addictions, not simply the primary one for which they were referred to counseling about.

An addiction counselor will first help their client accept their problem, and assist in their understanding of what it is doing to their lives. Next, through trust and communication, a counselor may place their charge in a detox program to help rid their bodies of the drugs. Once this is completed, the counselor will help the client with a one on one meeting structure and refer them to support groups as necessary.


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