How Do I Become an Addiction Counselor?

Home | How Do I Become an Addiction Counselor?

If you are in addiction recovery and looking for ways to give back to your community and find work that supports your sobriety, you might consider becoming an addiction counselor. 

How Addiction Counseling Gives Back

The role of an addiction counselor is a crucial one in recovery. It’s also a stimulating and rewarding profession with room to grow personally and impact others in life-changing ways. It’s the perfect opportunity to find meaning in the chaos of an addiction experience, turning a negative life event into an opportunity to support and guide others. 

What is an Addiction Counselor?

Essentially, an addiction counselor—or a drug and alcohol abuse counselor–is tasked with providing successful treatment to anyone who wants to eliminate substance abuse from their lives. Counselors interact with addicted individuals as well as their family and friends.

Using a number of studied techniques and personal anecdotes, counselors effectively coach people through the adoption of healthy, substance-free coping mechanisms. Basic responsibilities for someone in this role can include:

  • Providing treatment and support to clients in recovery
  • Interacting with family members and friends of clients
  • Establishing working relationships with the healthcare workers and doctors involved in a client’s sobriety journey

What Types of People Make Great Addiction Counselors?

While having personal experience with addiction helps generate empathy and understanding, it’s not a requirement for becoming an addiction counselor. Anyone who possesses the following qualities can make an excellent addiction counselor:

  • Active listening skills
  • Ability to empathize with clients and their loved ones
  • Ability to extend compassion and concern at all times
  • Strong sense of patience and flexibility
  • Ability to maintain sensitivity and discretion

Professional Steps To Becoming an Addiction Counselor

The first place you’ll want to start when beginning your counseling career is enrolling in an alcohol and drug abuse certification program that spans anywhere from eight months to two years. Certification typically requires completing an internship or supervised practicum. You’ll also need to pass an exam that centers on relevant material. 

Secondly, you’ll want to narrow down the type of substance abuse counselor you want to be.  Currently, a number of environments need certified addiction counselors:

  • Health and rehabilitation centers
  • Prisons and hospitals
  • Shelters for battered people or houseless individuals
  • Assisted living homes and halfway houses
  • Juvenile centers
  • Private practices

You can get in touch with any of the above facilities in your area and request information about their career requirements. 

Thirdly, you’ll want to make sure you have a strong support system in place before accepting a job offer. Burnout rates for entry-level counselors are high. However, many seasoned counselors communicate that the rewards of the profession cancel out fatigue in the long term. 

Addiction Counseling Isn’t the Only Way to Give Back

There are multiple avenues and professional paths that will allow you to give back in the recovery space. Specializing in withdrawal management as a healthcare professional, becoming a licensed cognitive behavioral therapist, pursuing new habit formation coaching programs, and getting certified in health and wellness approaches are all possible professions. St. Gregory Recovery Center can offer insight into each of these paths:

Contact St. Gregory Recovery Center For More Information

Don’t hesitate to reach out to us online or via phone today with any questions about our career opportunities. With locations in Bayard and Des Moines, IA, there’s a place for everyone at St. Gregory Recovery Center. 

Our graduates tell their stories…

When first arriving at St. Gregory I had mixed feelings about the health and wellness workouts. I came in at 136 lbs and didn’t think it was possible to reach...
- Chris
The good life is not merely a life free from addictions, physical and/or psychological—addictions that usually are the outward manifestations of deeper problems—but a life lived in harmonious balance, free...
- Matt
I came to St. Gregory’s at my all-time worst—physically, emotionally, and mentally. Having gone through a bad rehab experience once before, I had been very reluctant in succumbing to that...
- CJ
No matter where I start my thought process when reflecting upon my time before, during and after St. Gregory’s, I always seem to end up in the same place in...
- Kaele


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