Alcohol and substance abuse affects people from all walks of life. Sadly, the need for addiction counselors is growing, and Massachusetts and other states are responding with initiatives that make it easier and financially feasible for those in need to receive counseling.
For example, the impact and scope of the current heroin epidemic on human lives is astounding. In the first half of December 2014, 58 people died from opiate overdoses in Massachusetts alone. With such staggering numbers, one clear result is that alcohol and substance abuse counseling is a rapidly growing field that gives caring people the opportunity to make a positive impact on patients, families, and entire communities.
Substance Abuse Counselors Making A Positive Impact
Working as a substance abuse counselor gives you the opportunity to facilitate real and lasting change in people who face a lifelong struggle. It can be challenging work, but the impact you will make can be deeply rewarding:
- Helping people fight addiction – This is the most obvious benefit you offer as a counselor. People seek counseling because they need help. They are trapped in a cycle with a substance that is wreaking destruction on every aspect of their lives. Addiction is not easy to overcome, and almost impossible to do alone. With your help, some people will find a way out.
- Improving lives – While addiction is the most obvious symptom, it is almost always a result of more than just a substance problem. Most patients have a number of issues in their lives—possibly with relationships, abuse, poverty, or any other conceivable challenge in life. This is where the real work happens. You will help people find a better, healthier, more productive way to live their lives overall, providing them with a process that does not automatically lead to substance abuse.
- Giving ongoing support – For many people who struggle with addiction, the path to recovery lasts a lifetime. You can expect to help some patients over an extended period of time, from months to many years. You will be a source of support that assists them in living healthier over the span of a lifetime. If you’re considering becoming a substance abuse counselor, it means you have a strong desire to help others.
- Bettering communities – Your impact on a larger scale may seem insignificant at first, but the ripples will be far-reaching. As you help more and more people recover from life-destroying addictions, you inevitably help those that your patients come in contact with. This makes for stronger families, stronger communities, and safer and more productive environments for everyone.
The Long Term Prospects for a Career in Substance Abuse Counseling
Alcohol and substance abuse counselors are in growing demand. Many cities and states are finally viewing addiction as a serious epidemic, one that should be addressed successfully, through policy and funding, for the betterment of society. Many states are increasing funding for substance abuse treatment, including Massachusetts. Governor Patrick recently signed a bill to upgrade the insurance eligibility and reimbursement for substance abuse treatment, which is sure to lead to increased demand for counselors. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) also reports that substance abuse counselors are in high demand on a national level, with faster than average job growth predicted from 2012-2024.
If you’re interested in becoming a substance abuse counselor, request information from Continuing & Career Education at Assumption College. Certificate programs are offered in Worcester and on Cape Cod that will prepare you for the professional licensing exams. If you also decide to earn an undergraduate degree, the certificate courses can also be applied to a bachelor’s degree in Human Services and Rehabilitation Counseling, reducing your degree requirements by eight courses.