Substance Abuse Counseling Overview: Quick Facts

Considering a career in psychology? Learn what it takes to be a substance abuse counselor.

What You'll Do

  • Counsel individuals and groups with drug, alcohol and tobacco problems
  • Provide counseling to people with eating disorders and gambling addictions
  • Maintain records of each patient
  • Create patient treatment plans
  • Connect patients with other mental health professionals
  • Coordinate after-care plans for patients leaving treatment centers and programs

Substance abuse counselors, also known as behavioral disorder counselors, help people with addictions and other behavioral issues cope with stress and life's challenges in a healthier way. Sometimes clients are also dealing with other mental health issues and a substance abuse counselor may partner with a psychiatrist as part of a treatment plan. Because substance abuse and eating disorders happen to people of all walks of life, a substance abuse counselor might spend one session working with a person who has court-ordered therapy and another session with a family intervening for a loved one. In any of these scenarios, substance abuse counselors have to be prepared for an immensely challenging, but rewarding, job. Find out if you have the skills and personality traits to make a good substance abuse counselor.

You are... You should have...
Patient Excellent interpersonal skills
An active listener Critical thinking abilities
Compassionate High tolerance for stress
A problem solver Integrity
A self-starter Good communication skills
A decision-maker Adaptability
Organized Ability to maintain composure

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