20 Best Substance Abuse Counselor Jobs For College Graduates

Before going into the main topic: Substance Abuse Counselor Jobs. We would treat some background studies. We will also look into the following sub-headings: How To Become A Substance abuse Counselor, Substance Abuse Counselor Certification, Substance Abuse Counselor Salary, Substance Abuse Counselor Job Description. Now let’us get started.

It’s important not to treat drug abuse lightly. It happens when you use alcohol, prescription drugs, and other substances—both legal and illicit—too frequently or improperly.

Addiction is different from substance abuse. Many people who struggle with substance misuse are able to stop using drugs or alcohol or change their destructive habits. Contrarily, addiction is an illness. It implies that you are unable to stop consuming even when your situation is harmful to you.

Frequently Used Substances

Chemicals in both legal and illicit drugs have the ability to alter how your body and mind function. They can make you feel good, reduce tension, or assist you in avoiding issues in your life.


Everybody is affected by alcohol differently. However, your risk of getting hurt or having an accident increases if you drink excessively and frequently. Heavy drinking can also result in liver and other health issues as well as more severe alcoholism.

Men who consume more than four drinks per day or more than 14 in a week are considered to be binge drinkers. Heavy drinking is defined for women as having more than three drinks in a single day or more than seven drinks per week.

One beverage is:

  • Regular beer, 12 ounces
  • malt liquor, which contains 8 to 9 ounces and is stronger than beer,
  • wine, 5 ounces
  • 1 1/2 ounces of distilled alcohol, such as whiskey or vodka

Medicine on Prescription and Over-the-Counter (OTC)

These have the same potential for danger and addiction as illegal narcotics. Medication misuse is possible if you:

  • ingest medication that was prescribed to someone else
  • Use a drug in a manner other than what is recommended or take extra dosages.
  • Use the medication for purposes other than those of medicine.

Prescription drug classes that are most frequently abused include:

  • opioid analgesics
  • treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder with medication
  • Anti-anxiety and sleep aids.

Cough and cold medications with dextromethorphan, which can make you feel drunk or intoxicated in high dosages, are the most widely abused OTC pharmaceuticals.


The natural equivalent of synthetic, prescription opioid drugs is this unlawful medication. At first, heroin offers you a surge of positive emotions. But when it subsides, everything becomes slower.

You can experience chills, nausea, and anxiousness in addition to moving and thinking more slowly. There can be a strong want for you to use more heroin to feel better.

How To Become A Substance Abuse Counselor

Drug and alcohol abuse counselors are urgently needed in towns and cities all throughout the United States. Sadly, it’s difficult to avoid reading about people and families who have been ruined by addiction in the news, especially now that opioid misuse in our nation has reached crisis levels.

Many different paths lead people to jobs in the field of substance abuse counseling. Some choose this professional route after dealing with their own addiction, while others are inspired by watching friends or family members suffer from addiction and recovery. Many times, a strong desire to serve people leads to interest in a certain field of work.

Whatever their motivations, all professionals in this sector have one common objective: helping people reduce or get rid of their alcohol and drug dependencies so they can live better lives.

What is a substance abuse Counselor?

A person with experience in treating patients who wish to learn how to lessen or stop abusing harmful substances and behaviors is a drug and alcohol misuse counselor. Counselors discuss a variety of approaches and therapies for handling problems in ways other than turning to harmful substances with individuals, families, couples, and groups.

People misuse drugs or alcohol for a variety of reasons, frequently as a coping mechanism for stress and issues in their lives. A person can abuse a substance without being addicted to it. In that a person loves the mind-altering consequences, whether they be physical, emotional, or psychological, substance misuse is related to addiction.

A person who abuses may spend less time going to a job, school, or engaging in social activities since stress in these areas of life can act as a catalyst for addictive behavior. Treatment and a recovery plan are necessary for counseling a person who is abusing substances before dependency or addiction sets in, although usually on a smaller scale than if the disease progresses to full-blown addiction.

What Does a Counselor for Substance Abuse Do?

Depending on the employer, the particular work description for a drug abuse counselor will change, but in general, counselors offer support and therapy to help people overcome addiction or change problematic behaviors like eating disorders. Counselors for substance abuse assist clients in determining the reasons they have turned to drugs, alcohol, or other destructive behaviors and collaborate with them on strategies and therapies to help them rebuild their lives.

A court may send a client to therapy for some counselors, and family members or friends may ask them to help with an intervention. Some therapists focus on a certain group of people, such as veterans, teenagers, or people with impairments. Abuse of alcohol and drugs is indiscriminate in that it affects people of all ages, races, socioeconomic statuses, levels of education, and genders. There is a need for drug and alcohol abuse counseling, so it doesn’t matter what employment path you choose.

Among the many job titles in counseling, the industry is certified alcohol drug counselor (CADC), addictions counselor, case manager, chemical dependency counselor (CD counselor), clinical counselor, correctional substance abuse counselor, counselor, drug and alcohol program advisor (DAPA), and drug and alcohol treatment specialist (DATS).

As they collaborate with social workers, registered nurses, psychologists, psychiatrists, and doctors to help design treatment plans for their clients and manage patient care and long-term recovery, counselors must have great communication and teamwork skills.

How To Become A Substance Abuse Counselor

The educational requirements to become a substance abuse counselor are not too complicated. You must complete coursework and a practical under supervision in order to get certification (experience). Graduate-level education and several hours of professional experience are needed to become a licensed counselor.

An undergraduate certificate in alcohol and drug misuse counseling is available at National University. Anyone, including service members, may complete the program and design a timetable that works for them thanks to the online curriculum. Students can enroll and start at any time because new courses begin each month and location is not a factor. While the academic prerequisites can be finished in eight months, the practicum is a six-month course that requires you to complete at least 255 supervised client-work hours at an approved location.


Students who are just starting their academic careers as well as those with higher degrees who want to specialize in addiction work and require certification in alcohol and drug abuse counseling can benefit from the program.

The cool thing about our curriculum, according to Dr. Posson, is that we have students who are very early in their study enrolled in the same class as students at the bachelor’s and master’s levels who have significantly more experience in the field of counseling as a whole. The dialogue and interaction are excellent.

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Since the undergraduate certificate in alcohol and drug misuse counseling program satisfies California’s certification criteria, students who reside or hold employment outside of California should review the laws and regulations in their jurisdiction.

Substance Abuse Counselor Certification

To be eligible for employment in the area, candidates must complete 415 academic hours of substance addiction counseling in addition to a predetermined number of practicum hours.

Finding out how many hours you need based on the place where you wish to work is vital because each state has distinct regulations. In addition to education and work experience, the majority of states also demand that you pass a test.

Before taking an exam, several states require completion of 2,000–6,000 hours of internship work, however, requirements change depending on your current academic standing. Each state has different requirements for when you can take your exam while working as an alcohol and drug counseling intern.

In some cases, you need to complete the internship hours prior to finishing your academics, while in other cases you can complete the practicum hours after finishing your academics.

The undergraduate certificate in alcohol and drug misuse counseling offered by National University equips you for entry-level work and serves as a springboard for pursuing advanced degrees in psychology or other academic specialties or a career as a therapist in the mental health sector.

Substance Abuse Counselor Salary

In the US, a Licensed Independent Substance Abuse Counselor makes an average salary of $61,897 a year.

That comes out to about $29.76 an hour, in case you need a quick pay calculator. This amounts to $5,158 per month or $1,190 per week.

The majority of Licensed Independent Substance Abuse Counselor salaries currently range between $45,000 (25th percentile) and $68,000 (75th percentile), with top earners (90th percentile) making $112,000 annually across the United States, according to modennews.com, which reports annual salaries as high as $117,500 and as low as $24,000.

The wide variety of salaries for Licensed Independent Substance Abuse Counselors—up to $23,000—indicates that there may be numerous prospects for growth and higher income based on experience, location, and skill level.

According to recent job ads on modennews.com, there is a strong demand for Licensed Independent Substance Abuse Counselors in Chicago, Illinois, as well as the neighborhood.

In your region, the average yearly wage for a Licensed Independent Substance Abuse Counselor is $63,676, which is $1,779 (3%) more than the $61,897 national average. has the highest average salary for Licensed Independent Substance Abuse Counselors out of all 50 states in the country.

Since there are millions of active jobs posted locally across America, modennews.com regularly checks its database to determine the most accurate annual salary range for Licensed Independent Substance Abuse Counselor positions.

Substance Abuse Counselor Job Description

To guide and support our patients, we are looking for a compassionate and committed drug addiction counselor. You will be in charge of creating treatment and recovery programs and identifying habits that obstruct rehabilitation in this position. Additionally, you might need to lead group and individual counseling sessions.

Addiction counselors should interact with other mental health care professionals and be knowledgeable about the most recent treatment techniques to achieve success. The best applicants have a strong clinical background and tangible counseling experience.

Counselor for Substance Abuse Responsibilities:

  • overseeing a case’s entirety from the time of intake through the time of discharge.
  • assessing the physical and behavioral health of patients.
  • creating treatment and recovery plans that are appropriate.
  • guiding therapeutic sessions in both individual and group settings.
  • keeping track of patients’ progress with their treatments throughout time.
  • collaborating with correctional facilities, psychiatric clinics, medical professionals, nurses, and social workers.
  • recognizing the conduct that obstructs therapy and recovery.
  • helping the primary caregiver control behavior associated with addiction.

Substance Abuse Counselor Requirements:

  • A bachelor’s degree with coursework in chemical dependency or an associate degree in chemical dependency counseling
  • Counseling master’s degree desirable.
  • Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) or a comparable designation.
  • prior knowledge of the drug abuse disorders treatment process.
  • It would be beneficial to be familiar with electronic health record systems like AVATAR.
  • knowledge of concerns involving co-occurring physical and mental health.
  • applying the best practice indicators from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA).
  • thorough understanding of drug and alcohol testing to monitor medical directives and treatment strategies.
  • excellent communication skills in both writing and speaking.
  • Outstanding interpersonal abilities and caring temperament.

Substance Abuse Counselor Certificate Online

There are numerous other ways to abuse drugs, including smoking marijuana and tobacco, injecting heroin, breathing cocaine and meth, or ingesting Vicodin, alcohol, and cough syrup. Nearly 50% of all high school seniors have used an illicit substance at some point in their lives, and a staggering 60% of them had ingested alcohol in the last year of school, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The number of Americans abusing illegal substances is rising, and with it, the demand for qualified, committed experts to help people who are addicted.

People who obtain certification in substance abuse counseling are frequently folks who have experienced their own addiction or that of a close friend or loved one. The licensed drug addiction counselor has a wide range of work opportunities thanks to the training and knowledge gained in a vocational school. Although the major employment may be mental health facilities, many certificate holders work as assistants to other professionals in private practice. In jails, where more than half of individuals confined struggle with misuse or dependence, certified substance abuse counselors are frequent.

Common Certificate

For a variety of reasons, many people decide to enter the certificate level of substance misuse counseling. First of all, it is affordable; a certificate in substance abuse therapy may be earned online for less than $4,000 on average. Second, obtaining a vocational certification takes less time than pursuing a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Third, those with vocational certificates can enter the workforce and assist others in resolving their most challenging issues in less time than it takes to earn a high school diploma. Fourth, most programs only require the following, so you don’t have to be an A+ student to apply.

  • basic literacy, reading, and writing skills
  • general educational development (GED) certificate or high school diploma
  • Recommendation letters

Depending on the school, the usual occupational certification program in substance abuse counseling lasts the equivalent of four semesters. The culture of substance usage among various groups will be covered in seminars for students; specialized courses will examine how drugs affect society, families, and people as a whole. Classes on fundamental counseling skills and appropriate case management are also frequently covered, as is the human services field. The certification of “certified substance addiction counselor” is awarded to graduates of many schools which also includes coursework in evaluation and treatment planning.

What Comes Next for Holders of a Certificate in Substance Abuse Counseling?

Alcoholics, drug addicts, smokers, and even people with eating problems are helped by those who have occupational credentials in substance abuse counseling. They can work for a range of organizations, and facilities like treatment centers, clinics, and jails need people with their particular expertise to fill support positions. The typical annual salary for substance addiction counselors at the certificate level is more than $39,270, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Additionally, the demand for vocational certificate counselors is anticipated to increase by approximately 30% through 2020 as substance usage rates in the nation continue to rise.

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Holders of certificates also have the choice to continue their studies. These students have an advantage over those who enroll in online or classroom-based undergraduate programs since they already have a vocational certificate in hand; graduates with a bachelor’s degree have even more employment opportunities. Many people decide to advance into managerial roles, where the median annual compensation is almost $62,000. People who pursue a master’s degree in substance misuse counseling can work in administration, offer direct services, or even start their own private practice. Masters-educated counselors can anticipate yearly salaries well over $50,000.

Certified Substance Abuse Counselor

Many people who wish to work as alcohol and drug misuse counselors may already possess an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in a relevant field, as well as professional experience in a mental health capacity. Professional certification in a new field can lead to greater opportunities with some more study and training.

A professional certification aims to establish benchmarks for the sector. In many different professions, ranging from engineering to accountancy, certification is necessary. A drug and alcohol counseling certificate confirms that you possess the knowledge and abilities required to treat clients in the field of substance misuse.

State-by-state variations exist in certification standards for substance misuse counselors, but most call for a combination of classroom study and practical training. For instance, the Center for Abuse Treatment’s “Addiction Counseling Competencies: Knowledge, Skills, and Attitudes of Professional Practice” served as the foundation for the requirements set forth by the California State Department of Health Care Services.

The task of upholding the regulations as well as accrediting and approving educational providers falls within the purview of the California Consortium of Addiction Programs and Professionals (CCAPP). One of those suppliers is the National University, one of the oldest and most seasoned online institutions in San Diego. Let’s go on to more detailed specifications for the Golden State.

Substance Abuse Counselor Schools

Students can discover two regional and one national university among the three institutions listed below that offer certificate or master’s degree programs in substance misuse counseling that can help them become ready for state certification. An undergraduate degree, a minimum GPA, and entrance exams are possible requirements.

1. Detroit, Michigan’s University of Detroit Mercy

One of the first addictions counseling programs in the nation is the University of Detroit Mercy’s school highlight.

According to U.S. News & World Report, the University of Detroit Mercy was tied for the 41st top regional university in the Midwest in 2015. It provides not just a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Addictions Counseling but also programs leading to certification as an addictions counselor (CAC) and licensure as a professional counselor (LPC). The state of Michigan allows graduates of the latter two schools to work as addiction counselors.

Once accepted, students enroll in courses in counseling theories and methods, assessment and evaluation, group therapy, and rehabilitation techniques. They also study the theories of addiction. An internship and a counseling practicum are additional prerequisites.

2. Westbury, New York’s New York Institute of Technology

The fact that the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) has three campuses abroad is its school highlight.

U.S. News & World Report placed the New York Institute of Technology in a tie for 50th place among Northern regional universities in 2015. The institution offers a certificate in alcohol and drug misuse counseling, which can be pursued independently or in conjunction with the master’s program in school counseling. A bachelor’s degree and an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 are requirements for enrollment in the certificate program. Oral and written tests are also requirements for candidates.

Group counseling, psychotherapy, pharmacology, and epidemiology are among the topics covered in the courses. Additionally, students pick up research and clinical assessment techniques.

3. Stockton, California’s University of the Pacific

The University of the Pacific’s online substance misuse counseling program is one of the school’s highlights.

In 2015, the University of the Pacific was ranked 116th overall among all national universities by U.S. News & World Report. The university provides aspiring substance addiction counselors with a certificate program that instructs them in one-on-one and group therapy, crisis intervention, and case management. There is also coursework in assessment and therapy planning.

In addition, this curriculum mandates a supervised internship that is longer than what is needed for state certification. The credentialing exam given by the California Certification Board of Alcohol and Drug Counselors is open to graduates of this program.


Around the United States, a number of institutions provide reputable substance misuse therapy programs. The University of Detroit Mercy, the New York Institute of Technology, and the University of the Pacific round out the top three. They all have unique programs, but they all cover the same ground, including group counseling and crisis prevention. Because practical experience is so important, these programs usually demand that students complete a practicum and an internship.

Substance Abuse Counselor License

It might be challenging to choose how to earn your counseling certification or licensure because the qualifications to become a professional addiction counselor differ from state to state. Consider your licensure and certification needs as soon as possible to ensure you receive the knowledge and clinical training you require.

The most frequent queries about the certification and licensure procedure were given to Dr. Kevin Doyle to address.

Dr. Doyle discusses what students should know before completing their studies in drug abuse counseling during the question-and-answer session that follows. He also shares his knowledge in the area of license and certification for addiction counseling.

The phrases “licensure” and “certification” are sometimes used interchangeably when discussing addiction counseling, which can be confusing. What’s the distinction?

Agreed! The licensing “alphabet soup” of terms and conditions is really perplexing. Here at the Graduate School, we have designed a full-time role to assist students with their clinical rotations and licensing requirements.

In response to your query, addiction counselors may be certified, licensed, or both. Typically, state licensing bodies are responsible for issuing licenses. Counselors typically need licenses in order to operate privately and charge clients for counseling or mental health services. While some states only issue general mental health or clinical counseling licenses, others have specific alcohol and drug counseling licenses.

Typically, certifications are optional. While some jurisdictions provide their own certifications, others accept certifications from independent organizations or organizations.

I can only provide the following advice to aspiring counselors: learn about the legal requirements in the state where you intend to practice and ask our experts any questions you may have about licensing.

Should any specific licensing agencies or certifying bodies be made known to aspire counselors?

The National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), the International Certification and Reciprocity Consortium (IC&RC), and the National Certification Commission for Addiction Professionals the most established (NCC-AP). To find out which licenses or certificates are available, the prerequisites for each, and which exams to take, visit their websites.
It appears that there is no one set of requirements to meet in order to become qualified or certified in the field of drug and alcohol counseling. Does it really matter what state you practice in?
Yes, it does, in fact. And that includes the federal District of Columbia as well as the territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, and others. The practice of many health professions, such as addiction counseling, is governed by state and territorial laws. Each may have various educational requirements, exams to pass, and so forth.

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Governments are becoming more adept at identifying documents issued by other states. However, states will always be free to set their own standards, which can be annoying for those who must relocate or travel frequently for work. If someone wants to become a certified professional counselor, they must become familiar with the state regulations.

Evidently, a qualification enhances a resume. Is becoming certified the only requirement for someone who wants to work as a counselor for drug and alcohol addiction?

Let’s not downplay how stunning it appears. A person who holds a reputable, recognized certification will undoubtedly gain favor from a prospective employer. It is quite obvious that someone has taken an effort to develop their skills in addiction counseling. They have gone through training, passed exams, and had supervised experiences. Additionally, each issuing organization (IC&RC, NBCC, NCC-AP) fights for the acceptance of its certification for a variety of rights.

So why are there so many distinct laws and regulations? Why are professional counselors and students need to go through this process in order to get licensed or certified? Why can’t counselors practice if they have the right training?
Public protection is presumably the most crucial justification. There must be some requirements to receive a counseling license or certificate in order to protect those with substance use or mental health concerns. People in need of mental health services, such as drug and alcohol therapy, would have no way of knowing that a practitioner is knowledgeable, moral, and secure without a license or certification.

Regulations governing licensing and certification mandate adherence to codes of ethics and best practices. Anyone who disobeys these rules will face punishment, which may include losing their ability to practice medicine there. A counselor cannot just relocate to a different state or organization if they were fired from their position due to inappropriate behavior.

Exist any efforts to make counseling requirements universal? to establish uniform requirements for all states so that qualified professional counselors could work anywhere?

Yes, but occasionally it moves too slowly. Some of these initiatives have been hastened by the COVID-19 pandemic since so many service providers are now using virtual counseling. This made it simpler to visit patients who were traveling from other states and to keep seeing them when they moved. State licensing bodies are still attempting to strike a balance between patient safety and these efforts, though.

I am fortunate to be a part of the conversations surrounding these concerns as the current president of the American Association of State Counseling Boards. With my experience, have come across many devoted and informed individuals who work for licensing boards across the nation. I sincerely believe that my new position will aid our students even more, and I’m always here to support them.

How successful are Hazelden Betty Ford Graduate School students in completing their in-state and out-of-state licensing or certification requirements? Are different licensing criteria taken into account in their education?

The majority of Hazelden Betty Ford’s counseling students are succeeding. The Graduate School is still keeping an eye on the national standards for education and experience. We make an effort to provide our students with the training necessary to work as professional counselors in as many states as we can. However, for obvious reasons, we do match the educational criteria for licenses in the states where Hazelden Betty Ford has sites.

Again, students should familiarize themselves with specific state regulations to ensure they are on the proper route to becoming drug and alcohol counselors. For instance, Florida mandates that students pass a course on human sexuality. This course is available as an elective but is not a part of the required curriculum. A student will probably be able to fulfill those criteria here at the Graduate School if they are aware of the education they must obtain before graduating.

What guidance do you have for students considering a career in counseling or seeking a degree in addiction therapy?

I would advise pupils to consider their objectives. Some therapists have the drive to earn every credential or certification in addiction treatment that is offered. Other therapists might prefer to focus on addiction and mental health in more detail. They must evaluate the prerequisites for obtaining a license to practice clinical mental health counseling. Everyone would be wise to review the state requirements for the job they are interested in.

Again, only approximately half of the states have licenses specifically for mental health counseling, while the other half merely have licenses for general mental health counseling.

We constantly advise students and recent graduates to keep their academic and course records, including their clinical diaries and course syllabuses, current. These records of your clinical hours are useful, and you might need them to satisfy state obligations. In the long run, keeping thorough records of clinical training can save time and frustration.

Substance Abuse Counselor Jobs

Are you a Substance Abuse Counselor? Seeking for a good Substance Abuse Counselor Jobs? Then follow this external link to access the full Substance Abuse Counselor Jobs.

Substance Abuse Counselor Jobs External link

The 20 Best Substance Abuse Counselor Jobs are as follows;


Department of Human Resources for Los Angeles County, California 4.1 Participates as a counselor in a program for mental health services or substance abuse that aims to prevent substance abuse and offer treatment.

$45,685 – $61,523 a year

2. Behavioral Health Counselor

Remote Marathon Health +8 sites 3.5

A Master’s degree must have been completed from a program in mental health counseling that has been approved by the Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related…

3. Group Facilitator

Lake Worth, FL-based URP Lake Worth LLC
displays professionalism while giving a favorable example of substance addiction. Report any violations of a client’s rights straight away.

$75 to $125 per hour

4. EAP Clinical Counselor – California Remote

Riverside, California: +25 CVS Health sites 3.3
keeps one’s license in good standing, pursues professional growth, and complies with all licensing criteria. strong literacy and computer skills.

$55,300 – $118,900 a year

5. Day Treatment Counselor

Smithfield, NC-based Hope Services, LLC 3.2
Hope Services, LLC is committed to offering and prioritizing only top-notch and comprehensive care for children and adolescents. Hope Services, LLC is a recognized CABHA.

Follow this link to access the remaining 15 Best Substance Abuse Counselor Jobs: External Link

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