Substance Abuse Counseling

What is Substance Abuse Counseling?

substance abuse addiction counseling

Entering the field of substance abuse counseling is similar to entering the field of coaching, fields that provide the support, encouragement, and training needed to achieve a goal that an individual wants to achieve, but can't do it alone.

And just as many former athletes enter the field of coaching, so do a large number of former substance abusers enter the field of substance abuse counseling, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) document "What Is Substance Abuse Treatment?" This document states that about half of the licensed or certified substance abuse treatment counselors are individuals in recovery themselves. (Process of Addiction Recovery).

Others who enter the field of substance abuse counseling are often individuals who had family members or close friends with a substance use disorder, experiencing firsthand the pain of addiction, but also the joy and rewards for those who recover. Still others are compassionate individuals, passionate about changing and empowering lives, and choose to enter the field of substance abuse counseling to make a difference.

Outpatient and inpatient centers, hospitals, and prisons

Substance abuse counseling in most facilities takes place within the context of a team of professionals, including doctors, nurses, social workers and psychologists, where the counselor stays involved with the client throughout the entire treatment process.

The counselor provides the assessment of the client, asking questions that help the entire team plan appropriate interventions and counseling services. For more information on substance abuse counseling within a treatment facility, click here.

The substance abuse counselor then focuses on getting the client to stop using drugs or alcohol, and helping him or her stay drug-free. They discuss how to identify triggers that cause clients to crave drugs or alcohol, such as a time or place where they used the drugs, people they used with, and stressful situations that contributed to the abuse.

According to the SAMHSA document What Is Substance Abuse Treatment?, counselors help clients:

  • See the problem and become motivated to change
  • Change his or her behavior
  • Repair damaged relationships with family and friends
  • Build new friendships with people who don't use alcohol or drugs
  • Create a recovery lifestyle

Organizations for substance abuse counseling

Locations Where Substance Use Treatment Was Received among Persons Aged 12 or Older: 2008*

substance abuse treatment facilities

Substance abuse treatment and counseling occurs in facilities dedicated to helping those with abuse and addiction disorders, or hospitals and doctor's offices where individuals seek help for the ravages of abuse on abusers' physical and mental health.

Locations for acquiring help for those affected by substance abuse are many. The same goes for those exploring career options.

* Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2009). Results from the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: National Findings (Office of Applied Studies, NSDUH Series H-36, HHS Publication No. SMA 09-4434). Rockville, MD.

Self-Help Groups include twelve step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Al-Anon, Naranon and many others.

Group counseling

Substance abuse counselors also conduct counseling sessions at facilities, and for independently run twelve-step programs. A number of self-help groups exist, but the most common are:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)
  • Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
  • Cocaine Anonymous (CA)
  • Marijuana Anonymous (MA)

Self-help groups benefit those with substance use disorders, allowing participants to openly share their feelings in a safe, confidential environment with others who won't judge or criticize them.

These groups also provide a support group for many who leave inpatient and outpatient treatment centers but still need the support to remain off of drugs and alcohol, and to identify triggers that might induce them to start using again.

Preparing for a career in the field of substance abuse counseling

If you are interested in working in the field of substance abuse and addiction counseling, receiving a psychology-based undergraduate degree is the first step. Most treatment facilities and other organizations require a master's degree and certification to work as a substance abuse counselor. To get started, request information from schools offering degrees in psychology, inquiring about certificates and licensure in the field of substance abuse and behavioral disorders.

Counseling Schools & Colleges
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5 Programs in
Online
  • With 100,000+ students, it's the largest private, nonprofit university in the nation.
  • Since 1971, its mission has been to develop Christ-centered men and women with the values, knowledge, and skills essential for impacting tomorrow’s world.
  • Offers over 230 programs online, from the certificate to the doctoral level.
  • The student-faculty ratio is 25:1, and 42.3% of its classes have fewer than 20 students.
  • The average freshman retention rate, an indicator of student satisfaction, is 76.5%.
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  • With 100,000+ students, it's the largest private, nonprofit university in the nation.
  • Since 1971, its mission has been to develop Christ-centered men and women with the values, knowledge, and skills essential for impacting tomorrow’s world.
  • Offers over 230 programs online, from the certificate to the doctoral level.
  • The student-faculty ratio is 25:1, and 42.3% of its classes have fewer than 20 students.
  • The average freshman retention rate, an indicator of student satisfaction, is 76.5%.
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  • Accredited
  • Online Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
5 Programs in
Online
  • 95% alumni satisfaction rate.
  • Currently holds more than 500 professional alliances, including 19 of the top Fortune 100 companies.
  • Potential students may preview a free, one-week mini course to get an accurate impression of the student experience.
  • Courses are taught by expert faculty, with 86% of professors possessing a doctoral degree.
  • Offers credit for prior experience and learning, as well as scholarships, accelerated programs, and several other ways to help reduce tuition costs.
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  • 95% alumni satisfaction rate.
  • Currently holds more than 500 professional alliances, including 19 of the top Fortune 100 companies.
  • Potential students may preview a free, one-week mini course to get an accurate impression of the student experience.
  • Courses are taught by expert faculty, with 86% of professors possessing a doctoral degree.
  • Offers credit for prior experience and learning, as well as scholarships, accelerated programs, and several other ways to help reduce tuition costs.
Show more [+]
  • Online Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
5 Programs in
Campus
  • Ranked one of the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in 2014 by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Offers a no-obligation, 3-week trial period where students may determine if the university is right for them before they commit to it.
  • Strives to be a student’s partner in lifelong learning; committed to helping them achieve their goals.
  • Serves students of all ages, from first-graders learning to read to professionals seeking postgraduate training.
  • Provides career-oriented diploma through master’s programs in fields such as healthcare, business, legal and paralegal services, information technology, criminal justice and design.
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  • Ranked one of the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in 2014 by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Offers a no-obligation, 3-week trial period where students may determine if the university is right for them before they commit to it.
  • Strives to be a student’s partner in lifelong learning; committed to helping them achieve their goals.
  • Serves students of all ages, from first-graders learning to read to professionals seeking postgraduate training.
  • Provides career-oriented diploma through master’s programs in fields such as healthcare, business, legal and paralegal services, information technology, criminal justice and design.
Show more [+]
5 Programs in
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  • Lets undergrad students try classes before paying any tuition.
  • In a 2013 survey, 83% of students said they would recommend the university to others.
  • Most degree-seeking online and campus-based students are adult learners with families and students who work while pursuing higher education.
  • Average class sizes is 18 for undergraduate and 13 for graduate-level courses.
  • Founded in 1937 in Davenport, Iowa as the American Institute of Commerce (AIC).
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  • Lets undergrad students try classes before paying any tuition.
  • In a 2013 survey, 83% of students said they would recommend the university to others.
  • Most degree-seeking online and campus-based students are adult learners with families and students who work while pursuing higher education.
  • Average class sizes is 18 for undergraduate and 13 for graduate-level courses.
  • Founded in 1937 in Davenport, Iowa as the American Institute of Commerce (AIC).
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  • Online Programs
  • Financial Aid
1 Programs in
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  • Provides students the opportunity to train at home in their spare time to get their high school diploma, train for a new career, or enhance current skills.
  • Member of the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA), the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education (CNIE), and the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE).
  • Features a fully flexible schedule with no classes to attend, leaving the study pace up to the student.
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  • Provides students the opportunity to train at home in their spare time to get their high school diploma, train for a new career, or enhance current skills.
  • Member of the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA), the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education (CNIE), and the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE).
  • Features a fully flexible schedule with no classes to attend, leaving the study pace up to the student.
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  • Online Programs
5 Programs in
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  • Formed in 2001, it has 28 locations across the United States.
  • Offers customized blend format of online and campus classes.
  • Extensive activity in the local campus communities.
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  • Formed in 2001, it has 28 locations across the United States.
  • Offers customized blend format of online and campus classes.
  • Extensive activity in the local campus communities.
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  • Good for Working Adults
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
5 Programs in
Campus
  • Listed on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll in 2013, for the sixth consecutive year.
  • Designated a 2015 Military Friendly School by Victory Media for the 4th consecutive year.
  • Accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
  • Main campus located in Chicago, Illinois with additional campuses in Southern California, Washington D.C., and online.
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  • Listed on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll in 2013, for the sixth consecutive year.
  • Designated a 2015 Military Friendly School by Victory Media for the 4th consecutive year.
  • Accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
  • Main campus located in Chicago, Illinois with additional campuses in Southern California, Washington D.C., and online.
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  • Good for Working Adults
  • Online Programs
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
5 Programs in
Campus
  • Phoenix Career Services™ help students find careers that match their interests & map out a personalized career plan.
  • Mentorships & networking opportunities available through Alumni Association of 800,000+ graduates.
  • Flexible start date and class schedules.
  • 100+ locations and online options.
  • Offers special military rates and special advisors who have a military background.
  • Students can earn credits for applicable military training and education.
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  • Phoenix Career Services™ help students find careers that match their interests & map out a personalized career plan.
  • Mentorships & networking opportunities available through Alumni Association of 800,000+ graduates.
  • Flexible start date and class schedules.
  • 100+ locations and online options.
  • Offers special military rates and special advisors who have a military background.
  • Students can earn credits for applicable military training and education.
Show more [+]
  • Good for Working Adults
  • Online Programs
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
2 Programs in
Online
  • Students can enroll at any time and begin studies in the fall, spring, or summer.
  • 9 out of 10 Florida Tech Students who apply, qualify for some type of aid, based on a Fall 2012 internal survey.
  • The average freshman retention rate is 77.3 percent.
  • Ranked #39 in Best Colleges for Veterans by U.S. News and World Reports
  • Among the more than 50,000 alumni include several astronauts, CEOs, and 32 generals.
  • Special tuition rate available for active duty, selected reserves, National Guard service members and their spouses.
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  • Students can enroll at any time and begin studies in the fall, spring, or summer.
  • 9 out of 10 Florida Tech Students who apply, qualify for some type of aid, based on a Fall 2012 internal survey.
  • The average freshman retention rate is 77.3 percent.
  • Ranked #39 in Best Colleges for Veterans by U.S. News and World Reports
  • Among the more than 50,000 alumni include several astronauts, CEOs, and 32 generals.
  • Special tuition rate available for active duty, selected reserves, National Guard service members and their spouses.
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  • Online Programs
1 Programs in
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  • Online MBA program ranked 6th in the USA by CEO magazine. 
  • In a university-sponsored survey, 4 out of 5 alumni reported being satisfied with their experience.
  • #1 Online School for military veterans according to Military Times.
  • 75,000+ graduates across all industries offer extensive networking opportunities. 
  • My Unique Student Experience (M.U.S.E.) lets students watch, view, read, or hear content. 
  • Smartphone app available for on-the-go learning. 
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  • Online MBA program ranked 6th in the USA by CEO magazine. 
  • In a university-sponsored survey, 4 out of 5 alumni reported being satisfied with their experience.
  • #1 Online School for military veterans according to Military Times.
  • 75,000+ graduates across all industries offer extensive networking opportunities. 
  • My Unique Student Experience (M.U.S.E.) lets students watch, view, read, or hear content. 
  • Smartphone app available for on-the-go learning. 
Show more [+]
  • Good for Working Adults
  • Online Programs
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits