How do I Become an Addiction Counselor?

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  • Written By: Ken Black
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 08 May 2019
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An addiction counselor is an individual who helps others overcome a substance abuse addiction, gambling addiction, or any other type of addiction. The process of becoming an addiction counselor is very similar to that of other counseling positions. Receiving at least a social work or psychology Bachelor's Degree is a requirement. Also, internships are very beneficial in order to learn the skills necessary to become an addiction counselor.

The first part of the process to become an addiction counselor is earning the college degree. In most cases, colleges offer classes suited for the type of addiction counseling that the student is interested in. Generally, all psychology and sociology classes will provide adequate general training, but substance-abuse specific training may offer specialized techniques based on sound psychological principles.

Earning a Bachelor's degree is often only the first step required to become an addiction counselor. As in many other types of counseling, an advanced degree will likely be required by many employers and state licensing boards. Many who go into the counseling field will at least have a Master's Degree. Some may even get a Ph.D. Talking with an academic adviser is a good way to understand what may be needed beyond a Bachelor's Degree.


Internships are another important thing to consider. Many students working to become an addiction counselor will want to consider a variety of internship possibilities. Addiction counselors work in a variety of environments including hospitals, residential treatment facilities, and outpatient offices. Getting internships in each of these areas may help students fine tune their interests, and help them choose a setting.

Once a student has earned the required degrees, the next step for many will be licensing by the state. In order to become an addiction counselor, this will likely be required. Often, those who are licensed with have LHMC behind their names. This stands for Licensed Mental Health Counselor. Licensing helps protect employers and individuals by ensuring a minimum set of standards are in place. Those who want to become addiction counselors should check with their state licensing board. It may be called something different in each state, or even be handled by different departments. Licensing requirements will also be discussed in college counseling courses, especially those concerning the law and ethics.

After this has been accomplished, the student is ready to seek employment as an addiction counselor. Addiction counseling jobs are often advertised in local newspapers, through professional Web sites and on a college job boards. These represent some of the best places to look. Also, contacts made during the internship process may be very helpful when it comes to landing that first job.


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Understanding the deeper subconscious reward mechanisms that people learn to obey is important to curing and understanding addiction in general. Helping to elicit these patterns into the conscious mind of addicts helps them to personally deal with their addiction in a very real manner and bring it to light. Once these deep patterns are brought to light, they can be directly addressed and changed for the better. Liberating people from their deep fears and false felt needs is an important way to heal addiction.

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