What is the Value of an Addiction Counseling Degree?



Addiction comes in many forms and presentations and offers many avenues of employment for someone who holds an addiction counseling degree. The causes of addiction are complex and require an addiction counselor to be able to draw on multiple types of therapeutic treatment to help the addict overcome their issues and quit abusing substances.

How Does Having an Addiction Counseling Degree Offer Value?

An addiction counselor can oftentimes find themselves in the position to help save someone’s life and help them become a functioning member of society. The value of an addiction counseling degree is that of helping turn the tide against addiction issues one person at a time. That individual can then contribute to the community in a positive manner.

Untold numbers of people deal with the effects of addiction on a daily basis. Some people find their way through prescription drug abuse while others abuse alcohol to numb themselves against pain and the fear of dealing with the causes of their pain. Students who decide to get their addiction counseling degree are best poised to help people understand why they engage in substance abuse, address the cause of their pain, give them tools to deal with their addiction and find their way back to society. Becoming an addiction counselor is a rewarding career that is ideal for people with caregiving skills and the desire to help society as a whole. 

What Kind of Jobs in Substance Abuse Counseling are Available?

There are many types of substance abuse counseling jobs available to qualified graduates. You can opt to work in a number of venues and facilities as well as specialize in certain types of substance abuse. For example, the opioid epidemic has resulted in large amounts of people who have become addicted to opioid-based substances. A substance abuse counselor can choose to work for a facility that offers jobs in substance abuse counseling for opioid addiction and focus only on treating people who are looking to get free of opioid abuse.

Specializing in a certain type of addiction will not restrict you to working only in that area of substance abuse. Instead, it positions you as a substance abuse counselor who is intimately familiar with the effects of a given substance on the human body and brain. Nothing prevents a substance abuse counselor from working in another area of substance abuse simply because they chose to focus on one type of substance addiction over another.

The education behind a substance abuse counseling degree is designed to enable a student to work with all types of substance abuse. The current understanding of substance abuse revolves around the understanding that the brain drives addiction and that the actions of a specific type of substance upon the brain are well known. Therefore, someone who has earned an addiction counseling degree can work in a variety of clinical settings and with patients who are dealing with one or more addictions to substances. Getting a substance abuse counseling job revolves more around the type of substance abuse counseling you want to engage in as opposed to dealing with a broad range of patients with various substance abuse presentations.

Places where you can find a substance abuse counseling job include:

  • DUI programs
  • Mental health treatment facilities
  • Hospitals
  • Private practice
  • Outpatient and inpatient rehabilitation facilities
  • Community health centers
  • Halfway houses
  • Telehealth or online therapy providers

How Much Can I Earn With an Addiction Counseling Degree?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average substance abuse counseling salary is $46,240 per year. In 2019, there were a total of 319,400 jobs in the substance abuse, behavior disorder, and mental health counselor category. The job outlook for this role is expected to grow by 25% between 2019 to 2029, adding a total of 79,000 jobs. It’s worth noting that the job outlook was generated long before the COVID-19 pandemic and the potential effects of an extended lockdown on the mental health of the population weren’t foreseen. Lockdowns and movement restrictions have caused a spike in substance abuse patterns among individuals who may have not otherwise entered into substance use and abuse. The potential exists for more employment opportunities as a substance abuse counselor and a corresponding increase in the average addictions counseling salary. 

Other factors that play into the average substance abuse counseling salary include geographical location, experience, and the average income of the population. The denser and wealthier a population, the higher the addictions counseling salary. However, rural and poor areas of the country experience a higher rate of addicted individuals which can affect the average substance abuse counseling salary. The individual substance abuse counselor should decide where they want to live and work in order to earn a satisfactory substance abuse counseling salary and enter into a career path that makes the most sense for them.

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