If you have the compassion to help others recover from drug-addiction related issues along with the passion to for a career that pays well along with being personally rewarding, learning how to become a drug counselor may be a good choice for you.
Drug counselors, sometimes also known as substance abuse counselors or addiction therapists, are experts that provide counseling to people that are addicted to drugs and assist them in identifying behaviors and issues that have led to their dependence on drugs. They follow the individual through a systematic treatment of both psychological and physical therapies.
Substance abuse counselors also provide counseling for former addicts, as well as people who have the potential to be substance abusers. They provide counseling not only to the individual involved in addiction but also with the family, friends and significant others who are also affected by the issue.
Generally, drug counselors work in government agencies and hospitals, jails, rehabilitation centers, schools and some practice in private companies. Here are the steps involved that will lead you to becoming a drug counselor.
- Assess Your Skills
Being a drug counselor can be a rewarding job, especially if you were able to see the results of your work. But it also requires many skills and years of study and hard work. For you to become an efficient drug counselor, you must be understanding, patient, compassionate and respectful so you can do your job. You must have the empathy towards your client, as this will help you understand what your clients feel especially during treatment, as this is the most difficult time for them.
It is best that you perform a thorough and honest self-assessment. In this way you will be able to identify whether you possess the necessary traits and if you are emotionally strong to endure the commitment in rehabilitating addicted individuals.
- Check Licensing Requirements
Licensing regulation and requirements for drug counselor may vary from one state to another. You’ll have to make sure that you comply with all the necessary requirements mandated by your state in order for you to practice your profession. Make sure that you inquire whether the certifications for drug counselors are the same with the substance abuse counselors in general. You may inquire from the American Counseling Association (ACA) for detailed information about the prerequisites of each state.
- Get a Bachelor’s Degree
Obtain a bachelor’s degree in counseling or any related field. Most colleges and universities do not offer a bachelor’s degree in counseling. However, you may take related courses like psychology, sociology, nursing and social works. These courses include studies in mental health; counseling, human behavior, as well as substance abuse. By taking these courses you will build a foundation of learning that is necessary for the profession.
- Obtain A Masters’ Degree Or Associates Degree
Some states may or may not require aspiring drug counselors to be licensed. Most states require applicants to obtain a master’s degree in order to sit for the licensure exam. You must enroll in colleges and universities that are accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP).
However, there are some states that provide eligibility to be licensed to those that go through specific associates degree programs. These are often two year programs that also require a significant amount of work experience.
Most programs require you to complete a certain amount of hours in a supervised experience in settings that you may work at in the future, such as a mental health institute or a rehabilitation center. This will be a prerequisite in order for you to get hold of your master’s degree. Other than that, the course will educate you mostly on treatment models, recovery and prevention, and counseling techniques. The program may take you 2 to 3 years of studies depending on the program’s course outline.
- Gain Relevant Work-Experience
It is commonly required for aspiring drug counselors to complete an extra period of supervised clinical experience. The training will usually take you 1 to 2 years to complete. States that require drug counselors to be licensed may have additional experience requirements.
Things that you will learn in your clinical experience are vital in order for you to land your first job. You may also do volunteer training that will bring you to a face-to-face contact with drug-abuse patients. This will provide you enough knowledge and skills once you already start working as a full-time drug counselor.
- Obtain A License
Some states may require you to be licensed and would require you to have completed a master’s degree in psychology or counseling while others would require you to be certified.
In licensing, you must apply for a licensure examination from the state’s professional board for drug counselors. This will include submission of transcript records and a proof of your accomplished supervised clinical experience. Licensing requirements definitely vary from state to state, but most will require you to have completed a master’s degree in drug counseling, a minimum of 2 years or equivalent to 3000 credit hours of supervised clinical training and must abide with the ethical codes and standards of the state board. You must pass the licensure exam in order to practice the profession.
Some would license you as a clinical mental health counselor while others would license you as a substance abuse counselor in general.
A drug counselor certification program is suited for the preparation of drug counselors in taking state or national certification examinations. The National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC) and the International Certification Reciprocity Consortium (ICRC) are some of the national certifying bodies in the United States.
The prerequisites for the certification exam would depend on the degree and extent of experience you completed.
- Drug counselors who completed an associate degree in human or health studies and completed a minimum of three years clinical experience are qualified to take the Level 1 certification.
- Those who completed a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college, holder of a license and completed a five-year experience may take the level 2 certification and will be given the National Certified Addiction Counselor recognition after successfully passing the exam.
- Counselors who completed a master’s degree in counseling, psychology or social work can obtain a Master Addiction Counselor designation after passing the certification exam. They must also have a state license or current certificate and a 3-year or 6000 hours of post-master’s degree work experience. This is the most advanced certification one can achieve.
Being a drug counselor is a demanding yet a fulfilling job, especially if you have the heart and compassion to help others recover from their present situation related to drug addiction. It takes a lot of mental and emotional strength in order to endure a job like this. Your work schedule will also be demanding since you may work during night and weekends as well. But becoming a drug counselor is also a noble career and a perfect way to help other and you will be able to perform a very important role in improving other’s lives.
- What Are The Requirements To Become A Marriage Counselor?
- How To Become A Marriage Counselor
- What Do Marriage Counselors Do?
- How Much Do Marriage Counselors Make?
Leave a Reply
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are markedAdd Comment