In 2006, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported that less than 11 percent of addicts (comprising drug and alcohol addicts) receive adequate treatment and counseling. This is interesting to note, especially since during the same year the “Health Professionals Substance Abuse Education Act” authored by U.S. Sen. Joseph R. Biden called for the need for the training of more addiction counselors, as well as the funding necessary for addiction counseling programs. Training in addiction counseling is targeted at helping victims of substance abuse, and those with drug and alcohol problems.
What is the role of an addiction counselor?
An addiction counselor provides support and counseling to individuals with alcohol and drug problems. These counselors help addicts identify personal problem areas which relate to their addiction. Aside from providing counselingl on addiction problem areas, addiction counselors help develop personalized recovery programs which are geared at instilling healthy behaviors in recovering addicts. Emphasis on processing family issues as well as an ongoing maintenance program after detox is essential for drug relapse prevention. Some counselors conduct community-based programs aimed at addiction prevention and creating public awareness.
Addiction Counseling As A Profession
Addiction counseling is both challenging and rewarding as a profession. Some ex-addicts actually make the best counselors as they are aware of the tricks and manipulations used by addicts plus have the compassion to have a nice blend between firmness and nurturance. Here are some steps on how to become an addiction counselor.
Have the right character predisposition.
If you are looking to become an addiction counselor, you need to have certain leadership qualities, possess a strong sense of ethics, and maintain a lifestyle of health. After all, you are going to be essentially a role model for your clients. You will also need the ability to look at people’s potential instead of their obvious weak side. As previously stated after a period of successful recovery, some ex-addicts choose to become addiction counselors and have a great deal to offer people due to their own history.
2. Pursue a social work program, mental health counseling or specific addiction certification program.
If you are wondering how to become an addiction counselor, you will need proper training. This means choosing a program, such as psychology, sociology, therapy and counseling, even law, government, and management. There are different requirements per state for addiction counseling qualifications. If you are in college already, it would be a good idea to consult your college guidance counselor about which classes to take in order to fulfill these state prerequisites. It is advisable to go with a school that has a specialization in addiction counseling as a major, or concentrate in social work, mental health or psychology. In florida there is a a program called CAP which stands for certified addiction professional.
This requires a bachelors degree. There is also the CAAP-1 and CAPP-2. No academic degree is required for the CAAP-1. Each of these certifications requires a written exam and has additional requirements of work experience, supervision and course work. The CAP is the highest certication and requires a bachelors degree. Many people with the MSW degree or grad degree in mental health counseling who wish to go into addiction will pursue the CAP for additional training.
Addiction counseling internships might take place in a hospital, a rehab clinic, or as part of an outreach in a school or prison. The setup varies, and may include both group style sessions and one-on-one counseling. These will be given proper supervision and support by trained professionals.
It is advisable to consult the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium (ICRC), as well as the Association for Addiction Professionals about reciprocity between states. Both these organizations provide potential addiction counselors with access to examinations, which will be able to determine their qualifications for certification.