What is a Chemical Dependency Counselor?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 12 October 2018
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A chemical dependency counselor is generally a licensed individual who works in different settings supporting those addicted to drugs, alcohol or both. Training may vary for this individual and is based on regional requirements. Requirements seem to be increasing, and in some areas people may not be able to do this job without a bachelor’s or master’s degree, and without fulfilling a certain amount of practice hours prior to getting a license. Others may be able to become a chemical dependency counselor through work experience alone. Given this variance, those interested in the field will need to research requirements in their specific area.

There are different job locations for the chemical dependency counselor. Many of these counselors work at drug treatment centers. In this setting, they may help oversee the way a program is run, and work in group or individual settings with people receiving treatment. In group settings, the goal is to promote communication between people who all share the challenges of dealing with addiction, or counselors might use group meetings to teach about some of the expected behaviors and pitfalls of addiction recovery.


When counseling individuals, the chemical dependency counselor could help each person process the beginnings of addiction recovery. As a person progresses through a program and is prepared to exit it, the counselor can be of use in helping the person arrive at a suitable plan for continuing to stay clean while resuming more normal activities. Counselors may need access to a wealth of information about resources available in the community so that the recovering addict continues to get the support needed to remain drug or alcohol-free.

Some of that support could come from a chemical dependency counselor that works in an outpatient clinic. These counselors don’t just work in treatment hospitals. They could, as stated, staff clinics or they might work in other ways. Counselors could be part of organizations that focus on drug prevention, and they might do outreach to communities or help author materials that can be used to help people thoroughly think about their behavior prior to becoming addicted. Alternately, they might write and/or organize easy information for those who believe they’re addicted and need help.

Another way chemical dependency counselors might work is by helping families confront or intervene with a family member who has a serious addiction. Interventionists may work for hospitals or day treatment centers, but some also work alone and help families with intervention on a full-time basis. These specialists are not always drug counselors and could be therapists or psychologists, or could have extensive training in fields like mediation.

Organizations like the US Bureau of Labor Statistics report steady growth in employment opportunities for chemical dependency counselors. While opportunity to land a job after training is positive, anyone interested in this field must negatively view growing addiction. Ultimately an addiction counselor’s goal would be to render his job obsolete by ending addiction. Unfortunately, society seems nowhere close to achieving goal.



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