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How do I Become a Drug Addiction Counselor?

By T. Webster
Updated May 17, 2024
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Becoming a drug counselor can require an educational background that ranges from having a high school diploma all the way to having a master’s degree. Other requirements to become a drug counselor can include completing a certification program or earning a license. The exact educational requirements vary depending on your specific role and where you live.

Before deciding to become a drug counselor, make sure that you understand all of the education or licensing requirements. Also make sure that you are willing and able to meet those requirements. There is more to consider than education, however. You also should assess whether you have good communication skills, a high tolerance level for stress and a strong and sincere desire to help others.

Teaching people how to manage their addictions through counseling is the main role you will play if you decide to become a drug addiction counselor. This helps allow them to become functioning and productive members of society. This often is done through individual or group counseling. You also might offer counseling to those trying to cope with a family member who has an addiction.

Addictions are considered to be one of society's most significant health problems. Working as a drug addiction counselor can be frustrating, because some people who have addiction problems find it difficult to manage or overcome their addictions. Counseling those people can require a significant amount of physical and emotional energy.

Some of the places to look for employment are addiction treatment facilities, halfway houses, hospitals and other rehabilitation-related settings. You can even start your own practice as a drug addiction counselor. Again, remember to make sure that you meet all educational and licensing requirements.

Some agencies or treatment centers might require you to have some experience. One way to gain experience is through internships while in school. If you have personal experience overcoming a drug addiction, this can help you relate to clients. Use discretion, however, when volunteering such information to potential employers.

Volunteering also is a good path to take if you want to become a drug addiction counselor. Volunteer work sometimes is available at addiction treatment centers or hospitals. Getting some real-world experience also is a great way to find out if you truly want to become a drug addiction counselor.

Yet another way to become a drug addiction counselor is to network with social workers, career counselors, attorneys and state employees. All of these people can be good sources for job leads. This is partly because people with addictions often need other kinds of support services. People's addictions can spill into other areas of their lives and lead to unemployment or other financial and social problems.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon163164 — On Mar 26, 2011

its only through experience that you know what to do and more important, what to say.

By anon132572 — On Dec 07, 2010

I don't think that it should say that to be an addiction counselor you have to have personal experience.

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