While underage drinking and drunk driving continue to decline since 2002, illicit drug use rates have increased.
Among the most commonly abused substances, marijuana and psychotherapeutic drugs rank the highest. Next would be hallucinogens, cocaine, stimulants, inhalants, methamphetamine, and heroin.
Now, if you’ve seen firsthand what substance use or addiction can do to a loved one, you know that treatment is crucial for recovery. Besides medication, mental health services like counseling can help those battling substance abuse.
That said, if you’re curious about how to become a substance abuse counselor, you’re in luck. Here, we’ll outline the steps you need to become a licensed substance abuse counselor.
If you’ve always wanted to be an addiction specialist, you can start preparing by volunteering in high school. Take note that while addiction counselor requirements vary from state to state, a high school diploma is a prerequisite.
You need it to pursue substance abuse counselor education. Some places where you can volunteer include crisis centers and faith communities. You can also volunteer at community organizations.
Complete a Bachelor’s Degree in Addiction Studies or a Related Field
A bachelor’s degree in addiction studies gives you a solid foundation for pursuing an advanced degree. Remember, a master’s degree can provide you with more career opportunities. Other bachelor’s degrees to consider include psychology, social science, and behavioral science.
An addiction studies degree provides certain advantages. For one, it’s a growing field that exposes degree holders to diverse work environments.
You can work in a hospital, a rehab center, prison, school, etc. You can even open your practice to serve your community.
For many addiction specialists, the best perk is making a difference in people’s lives. As an addiction counselor, you never have to question if the work you’re doing is meaningful. Your work impacts not just your patients’ lives but also their loved ones.
Once you’ve earned a master’s degree in substance abuse, don’t forget about gaining hands-on experience. You’ll need postgraduate internship experience to meet certification/licensure requirements.
Other prerequisites for licensure/certification include passing tests. You can check with your state’s licensing board to know which examinations you need to take.
Continue Your Education
After getting your license, you can advance your career by going for additional specializations.
Keep in mind that continuing your education isn’t only for landing better jobs. It’s essential to maintain your license or certification, and it helps you help your patients better.
The landscape of addiction studies is constantly evolving. By keeping up to date with best practices, you’re always learning and doing right by your patients.
Do You Still Have Questions on How to Become a Substance Abuse Counselor?
Now that you know the basics of how to become a substance abuse counselor, do you think it’s the right career choice for you?
As an addiction counselor, you’ll help lots of people struggling with substance abuse. It’s also a career that will help you keep learning.
If you still want to know more about addiction, recovery, and other related subjects, you may check our other posts. We also have tons of health topics that might interest you, so don’t forget to browse our site.