What Does a Substance Abuse Counselor Do?

By: Continuing & Career Education at Assumption College

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

what do substance abuse counselors do?

Typically, the ability to truly transform someone’s life is a rare opportunity. Substance Abuse Counselors, however, change people’s lives for the better every single day. But what does a substance abuse counselor actually do every day? We’ve broken down the primary duties of substance abuse counselors, what their workplace settings are like, and why this unfortunate epidemic is causing the field to grow by an expected 22% from 2014 to 2024.

Primary Duties

Substance Abuse Counselors are trained professionals who offer support, rehabilitation, and guidance. They work closely with addicts to help them better understand and overcome their addictions. The scope of a substance abuse counselor’s support can vary from crisis intervention to long-term management issues, procuring immediate medical attention to assisting with ongoing treatment. Counselors will evaluate their clients’ mental and physical health, the scope and severity of their addictions, and help develop treatment goals and plans. They teach clients coping mechanisms, help them rebuild relationships, and assist them in reestablishing their careers. In addition to these duties, counselors are also available for moral support. The road to recovery can be a stressful and difficult process, but support from Substance Abuse Counselors can have a profound, life-altering impact.

The Workplace

Some Substance Abuse Counselors work with specific populations such as teenagers, veterans, or people with disabilities. While you could work in a variety of settings, here are the most common workplaces for substance abuse counselors:

  • Mental health centers
  • Prisons
  • Probation or parole agencies
  • Juvenile detention facilities
  • Hospitals
  • Private rehabilitation centers

Substance abuse counselors can also work in private practices, either as solo practitioners or with a group of counselors. No matter the setting in which you work, this career will present unique challenges and can impact counselors emotionally. Because of this, prime candidates are expected to have a high level of emotional maturity and healthy work/life boundaries.


It’s no secret that in Central Massachusetts, drug use has become an epidemic. In 2014 in Worcester alone, authorities received 712 phone calls reporting drug overdoses, 25 of which resulted in death. In response to the rising epidemic, states have been seeking more treatment and counseling services for drug offenders rather than jail time. More drug users have often been required to attend treatment and counseling programs as part of their sentencing. As a result, the demand for Substance Abuse counselors is expected to increase.

If you’re looking for a rewarding career that has strong job prospects, substance abuse counseling may be for you! You can jump start your career with a Certificate in Alcohol and Substance Abuse Counseling from CCE at Assumption. You’ll deepen your knowledge with case studies, techniques, and direct hands-on experience. The certificate program will also prepare you for future exams you will need to take for fulfilling your education requirements. Apply online today to get started with your career in Substance Abuse Counseling!

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