written by: R. Elizabeth C. Kitchen•edited by: Donna Cosmato•updated: 6/30/2010
Are you interested in becoming a substance abuse counselor? If so, read on to learn more about this career and what is necessary to get started.
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Drug and alcohol counselors work with people who have a problem with substance abuse, and drug and alcohol addictions. A substance abuse training program via distance education can help those hoping to break into this field. Obtaining such an education can either help aspiring substance abuse counselors begin their career, or it can help those in mental health fields obtain the certification necessary to expand the scope of the counseling they provide.
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All programs will differ slightly in the courses they require. Those pursuing a degree will have to take all prerequisite courses in addition to their core substance abuse counseling courses.
Counseling preparation topics can include:
Foundations of human behavior
General social issues
Psychological and social wellness
Recognizing complexity and ambiguity
Process of socialization
Social issues in the workplace
Counseling tasks and competencies
Introduction to behavioral pharmacology topics can include:
Conditioning and tolerance of drug effects
Dependence and addiction
Alcohol and its effects
Behavioral analysis of drug effects
The nervous system
Self-administration of drugs
Tranquilizers and sedative hypnotics
Drugs and behavior topics can include:
Caffeine and methylxanthines
Antidepressants and mood stabilizers
Tobacco and nicotine
Substance abuse counseling topics can include:
Introduction to substance abuse counseling
Etiological theories of substance abuse
Assessment and diagnosis
Major substances of abuse and the body
Theories of addiction
Treatment setting and planning
Additional topics that may be covered can include:
Group, family, and individual treatment
Characteristics of selected populations and treatment issues
Relapse prevention strategies
Working with diverse cultures
Legal and ethical issues in substance abuse counseling
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Average Completion Time
How long it takes to complete a substance abuse training program distance education ultimately depends on the level of education and the student's previous level of education. A diploma or certificate take about a year, as Associate's degree takes about two years, a Bachelor's degree takes about four years, and a Master's degree program or higher takes about three years.
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Top Online Schools
Stratford Career Institute offers a diploma in drug and alcohol counseling. This distance learning school is a member of Canadian Association of Distance Education, United States Distance Learning Association, and International Council for Distance Education. This program will cost a total of $889.00 and students can choose to pay in full when enrolling or they can make monthly payments for 15 months.
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Those who complete a program in substance abuse counseling can work in hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, community centers, clinics, or schools. They can provide counseling, help to create substance abuse lesson plans, or write in this field. The more education a person has, the better the job opportunities will be.
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Those who are certified in this field will have the best chance at obtaining one of the available career opportunities. The average annual salary for a substance abuse counselor is $27,126.00 to $38,557.00. The average annual salary for a chemical dependency counselor is $27,873.00 to $39,104.00. The average annual salary of an addiction counselor is $27,505.00 to $38,207.00. This career path is said to be growing faster than the average, so those hoping to become substance abuse counselors will likely have a relatively easy time finding employment.
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Why is it Better to Obtain this Degree Online?
Obtaining an education in substance abuse counseling, allows students to maintain their current lifestyle without having to make too many sacrifices. They will be able to maintain their current career, family, and social obligations. They will be able to complete their school work around their current schedule.
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PayScale. (2010). Salary Snapshot for Certified Addiction Drug and Alcohol Counselor Jobs. Retrieved on June 28, 2010 from PayScale: http://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Certified_Addiction_Drug_and_Alcohol_Counselor/Salary
DegreeDirectory. (2010). What Does a Drug and Alcohol Counselor Do? Retrieved on June 28, 2010 from DegreeDirectory: http://degreedirectory.org/articles/What_Does_a_Drug_and_Alcohol_Counselor_Do.html