Dealing with addiction can be a long and arduous journey. That is what makes the role of rehabilitation counselors so important. They help guide individuals through the journey of recovery, providing treatment and support. They help people through alcohol and drug abuse, eating disorders and other addictions.
Addictions counselors work for many different kinds of entities and organizations, including rehabilitation facilities, mental health centers, community organizations and prisons. Some work in private practice. Addictions counselors have the chance to make a true impact on the well-being of others and can play a critical role in turning around the life of those struggling with these problems.
Addictions counselors have several responsibilities, including:
- Evaluating the addiction and behavioral issues of clients and assessing how their physical and mental health might affect future treatment
- Developing treatment plans for clients that include short-term goals and long-term goals on the path to recovery
- Serving as a liaison between clients and family members, consulting them on possible treatment options if necessary
- Identifying clients’ negative behaviors that can hinder treatment
- Offering strategies for family members to assist their loved one in recovery and tackle potential enabling forces
- Referring clients to outside resources and services like job placement and support groups
- Providing outreach programs that can help identify those suffering from addiction, educate others about potential destructive behaviors and inform the public about preventing addiction
With increased coverage of mental health and addiction counseling services by insurance companies, demand for addictions counselors is growing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects employment of substance abuse or behavioral disorder counselors to grow 22 percent by 2024, a figure three times faster than the national average for all occupations. The increase in individuals having health insurance coverage will allow more people to seek treatment.
Moreover, the idea that rehabilitation treatment is costly is now becoming untrue. The career growth makes the field of addictions counseling one of the most attractive in social services.
The median pay for addictions counselors is $39,270 annually. The top 10 percent of counselors earn more than $61,420. Hospitals offer the highest salaries at $45,870 a year, and state and local governments offer salaries of $44,290.
Most addictions counselors must have a bachelor’s degree in psychology, counseling, behavioral sciences or a related subject. While some jobs require a master’s degree, a bachelor’s degree is the standard.
Addictions counselors who work in private practices must hold a license. Licensure requirements vary by state, but all require supervised clinical experience. In addition, counselors must pass a state-issued exam and complete continuing education.
Salary estimations are based on national average. Historically, salary ranges for the Northeast are higher due to higher cost of living.