What Is a Substance Abuse Counselor? Your Lifeline to RecoverySeptember 17th, 2012
Addiction is a serious disease that affects millions of people. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine to cure addiction. Many months and sometimes years of specialized counseling are required before most people can recover their lives.
People suffering from chemical dependency and addiction need special care from trained professionals. Chemical dependency may have roots in other psychological problems and disorders, but therapies that work on depression or bipolar disorder don’t work for addiction.
To help the millions of people suffering from addiction, specially trained professionals are needed. Often called addictions counselors or chemical dependency counselors, these specialists must hold at least a bachelor of science degree in psychology, social work, or counseling, and many have earned post-graduate degrees in these fields. Their primary role is to help their patients recover from addiction and learn to live drug-free lives.
But academic training is only part of the picture. Addictions counselors must also be experts in crisis management. People in their care are often dealing not only with drug addiction, but also with the legal, professional, and personal consequences of addiction. Many patients are going through divorces, dealing with unemployment, fending off debt collectors, and a host of other problems.
Counseling for Substance Abuse Is a Very Specialized Profession
Addictions counselors often must be prepared to work with unwilling patients, people who have been ordered into rehab by a court of law or who resist counseling after voluntarily entering rehab. Because they work directly with their patients, they must strive to build strong personal relationships with them, even when the patient is unwilling or resistant.
Many chemical dependency counselors specialize in working with certain kinds of patients. A teenager with a substance abuse problem requires a different approach than a single mother or older adult, even though those patients might be abusing similar drugs.
Likewise, many addictions counselors specialize in different kinds of addictions. Alcoholics and heroin addicts may have similar backgrounds, and addiction has distinct psychological effects on a wide range of people, but the nature of the drug being abused can be very different. Marijuana addiction is usually not as physically damaging as cocaine addiction, but the psychological damage can be serious. To best deal with these inherent differences, counselors are often focused on specific addictions.
Professional drug counselors use all kinds of therapeutic methods to treat addiction. Some specialize in 12 step therapy while others are holistic rehab experts or cognitive behavioral therapists. Generally, all professional counselors must stay informed about the latest developments and innovations in their selected fields, so continuing education is ongoing for addictions counselors.
All professional counselors are dedicated to their roles as lifesavers for people with addictions. As such, they often consult with each other and refer patients to more experienced specialists.
Addictions counselors often do it all, from screening and assessment to client education and record keeping. They don’t enter this field for the riches—their pay is often average. Rather, they are committed to helping people recover from the ravishes of addiction.
It takes a special kind of person to be a substance abuse counselor. We specialize in providing free information about the wide variety of treatment centers and therapeutic methods available to people with addictions. But that information is useless unless you call now. We’ll answer all your questions about rehab and help you make the most important decision of your life: to live.