Substance abuse and addiction counselors help prevent substance abuse, perform interventions, implement treatment plans for individuals and families, and evaluate patient progress. Highly skilled and well-trained counselors help to combat the intensity of addictions. Areas of academic study generally include prevention and treatment, individual, group and family counseling, sociology, treatment evaluation, substance abuse treatment resources, clinical supervision, pharmacology, human psychology, and understanding drug abuse. There is also an emphasis on professional standards and ethics and applicable laws and regulations in substance abuse counseling careers. Students will learn the best treatment for the patient, when the patient should be referred to other providers, or which therapies would be beneficial.Requirements for certification or licensure as a substance abuse counselor vary by state, but licensure usually entails supervised clinical work experience in addition to passing coursework. Counselors work vigorously in order to prevent their patients from relapsing. Not only do counselors work with patients, but they also interact with family members and friends of patients to assist them with coping strategies. Substance abuse and addiction counselors work in hospitals, clinics, halfway houses, shelters, and penitentiaries; counselors with graduate degrees may go on to become counselor educators or supervisors.
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