A Career as a Addiction Counselor

Miranda David

Career Overview

Addiction counseling programs prepare students to work as counselors with people who have alcohol, substance abuse, or gambling addictions. Students learn to assess problems and set up treatment plans. They learn methods for early intervention and prevention.


People with addictions do this every day: they do something to excess that isn't good for them. This can include doing drugs, drinking alcohol, gambling, and even eating. Addictions such as these are powerful and can have harmful consequences such as job loss, divorce, criminal activity, and severe illnesses.

Addiction counselors provide quality treatment services for addicts by helping them overcome their addictions and lead productive lives. They help addicts heal themselves both physically and mentally and repair damaged relationships. They also counsel friends and family members who have been affected by a person's addiction.

In addiction counseling programs, you take courses in psychology, psychopharmacology (how drugs affect the brain), counseling, and addiction theory. You study different addictions and how they affect the mind, body, and emotions. You learn how to diagnose the addiction, create treatment plans, and run individual and group therapy sessions. You also learn how to work with doctors and social workers, if necessary.

Career Skills and Interests

Substance abuse counselors must possess excellent listening and speaking skills and be able to communicate with a broad spectrum of people with varying educational levels. Compassion must inform their desire to work in this field, as the clientele is a challenging one that can resist treatment. Counselors must be able to maintain calm under stress.

Career Working Conditions

Substance abuse counselors work in a variety of environments including hospitals, residential treatment facilities, and governmental facilities such as prisons, juvenile detention centers and probation offices. Working hours include days, evenings, nights, and weekends and jobs are usually full time.

The workplace of a counselor is characterized by strength in the face of challenge. Counselors must remain a source of emotional strength and steadfastness to a large caseload of clients, some of whom are under the influence of drugs or alcohol or in the midst of emotional crisis. Recidivism in this line of work is high; a substance abuse counselor must be able to navigate his own emotions when some clients inevitably return to drug or alcohol use. These counselors rely on good stress management skills and emotional maturity in order to thrive in a work environment that poses unique challenges.

Career Wages and Outlook

Addiction Counselors are usually paid by the hour and work a full 40 hours or more a week.

Addiction Counselors wages depends on where they work, if you work in a hospital then you will make more money then if you worked in a school, the level of your education will also play a part in your wages.

Counselors who work full time usually receive benefits. Typical benefits include sick leave, paid vacation, and health insurance. Some employers also provide a retirement plan.

$21.93 / hour

The job outlook in this career is very good, in Minnesota it has raised by 25.7% and in the United States 27.8%.

Career Related Occupations

Career Program of Study-Addiction Counselor

Program Overview

As an addiction counselor you deal with people who have problems and suffer from being addicted to something. You study how that thing effects the person and why they are addicted and then you study how to treat and prevent it.

Program Admission

Once you graduate High School you need to take a test and then you can get your license to be a addiction counselor.

Biology, Psychology, Anatomy, Sociology, Probability and Statistics, Communication

Typical Course Work


Abnormal Psychology Addiction and Spirituality Counseling Theory and Techniques, Cultural Diversity Ethics and Law, Group Counseling, Human Growth and Development Intervention and Assessment Prevention, Psychopharmacology,Theories of Addiction

Related Programs

Social Work, Probation Officer, Clinical Psychology, Clinical Social Wokr

College Choice

Schools that offer the program

Bemidji State University-located in north

Capella University - Minneapolis , Located in Metro

Century College - White Bear Lake , Located in Metro

Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College - Cloquet , Located in Northeast
Hazelden Graduate School of Addiction Studies - Center City , Located in Central
Mesabi Range Community and Technical College - Eveleth , Located in Northeast
Mesabi Range Community and Technical College - Virginia , Located in Northeast
Metropolitan State University - St. Paul - Saint Paul , Located in Metro
Minneapolis Community and Technical College , Located in Metro
Minnesota State University, Mankato , Located in Southeast
North American Training Institute - Duluth , Located in
North Central University - Minneapolis , Located in Metro
Ridgewater College - Hutchinson , Located in Central
Ridgewater College - Willmar , Located in Central
Rochester Community and Technical College , Located in Southeast
Saint Mary's University of Minnesota - Minneapolis , Located in Metro
St. Cloud State University , Located in Central
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities - Minneapolis , Located in Metro
Winona State University , Located in Southeast
Winona State University - Online , Located in Southeast

Bemidji State University

College Info

Bemidji State University is located in Bemidji, Mn.

There is about 5,000 students that attend BSU

$8,098.00/year

It's a 4 year school located in a big town that's spread out so it has the small-town feel. Typical class size is 26 students. Student-faculty ratio is 24-1.

Housing and Activities

Bemidji has on and off campus housing. They do not have food plans though. So you have to keep that in mind when thinking about your expenses while living in college. There are many sports that you can participate in and they have 44 clubs and interest groups. BSU also has 5 fraternities and sororities.

College Expenses

They do have financial aid at BSU and the form is accepted by April 15 of the year you plan on attending. Otherwise here are the costs.

Tuition is $8089/year (fees included)

Books- $840

Room and Board-$6690/year

Admission Requirements

They have a continuous deadline. The things you need for admission are application, college transcripts, you need to have a interview, submit a written essay, take the ACT, standarized test scores, and your class rank.

Plans to reach my goal

For my first two years of school I plan on going to a community college to get my generals done. Then I want to transfer to a four year school and after that either get a job as an addiction counselor or go to grad school for another year of education. In the mean time I plan on doing a job shadowing as a drug and alcohol counselor, doing volunteer work, and taking classes that will help me with my future career.

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