Substance Abuse Counselors

Use and abuse of drugs and alcohol is very common and can have serious consequences. According to new studies alcohol and drug abuse account for 50% of deaths from accidents, homicides, suicides among young people. Drugs and alcohol also contribute to physical and sexual aggression such as assault or rape. Repeated and regular recreational use can lead to other problems like anxiety and depression. Some people regularly use drugs or alcohol to compensate for anxiety, depression, or a lack of positive social skills.

The prevalence and wide-reaching impact of drug addiction are the source of ongoing concern for governments, health care industry, schools, and employers. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration’s 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health , an estimated 20.3 million people aged 12 or older had a substance use disorder, including illicit drugs and/or alcohol. Substance abuse counseling is an essential  need for all countries because of the rapid nature of societal changes and the devastating effects of drug and alcohol abuse.


Who are Substance Abuse Counselors?

A drug and alcohol counselor also known as a substance abuse counselor is a mental health professional who helps patients struggling with addictions. The main responsibility is to work with individuals and their families to treat both mental and emotional disorders, as well as to promote overall mental health.

Sometimes called “therapists,” mental health counselors train in a variety of therapeutic techniques. They treat emotional conditions, such as depression, addiction and substance abuse, suicidal impulses, stress and overall problems with self-esteem and grief.


What do substance abuse counselors do?

These professionals works individually with his or her patients or in group counseling sessions depending on the kind of treatment needed. The goal is to help a client pinpoint the situations and behaviors that lead to relapse and block the road to recovery. The drug counselor may also help their clients find jobs or refer them to other resources, services, and support groups.

In some cases, an addiction counselor may also conduct programs or informational sessions that teach not only their clients, but also family and friends of patients about addiction, behavioral disorders, coping strategies, signs of addiction, and how to avoid destructive behavior.

Mental health professionals work in a variety of environments and settings and with a diverse demographic of people. They often work flexible hours to accommodate families in crisis or working couples who must have evening or weekend appointments.

Addiction counseling and drug counseling is offered in general health care facilities like state, local, and private hospitals or in private practices. Prisons, probation and parole agencies, detox centers, halfway houses, and juvenile detention facilities are also common work environments for substance abuse counselors. Mental health counselors also work closely with other health specialists, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical social workers, psychiatric nurses and school counselors.

Much of this occupation requires the counselor to communicate in either individual or group environments. Job descriptions may vary but skills like active listening, social perceptiveness, critical thinking, and deductive reasoning are all paramount to success and safety as a counselor.

Specific work activities can include:


  • maintaining client records


  • writing reports and evaluations


  • interviewing and assessing clients


  • collaborating with other professionals to evaluate clients and patients.

READ: Drug And Alcohol Classes: Types, Duration, What to Expect

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