What does a Drug Therapist do?

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  • Written By: Nat Robinson
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 19 November 2019
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A drug therapist works with individuals who have or had problems with drug usage. One of the overall goals of a therapist is to help rehabilitate the individual. Sometimes, a therapist is referred to as a substance abuse counselor. Most of the time, a person in this position will be dedicated to designing strategies that will help keep the person off drugs. Drug therapists may work in a community center, a hospital or in a rehabilitation clinic.

The first thing a therapist may do is assess the needs of the individual. Every person seeking professional help for drug issues will have different needs. For this reason, a drug therapist may do a number of things to tailor an individual detox program. This may include obtaining medical history, assigning a questionnaire and doing an interview. All of these tactics can be used to obtain information about the person which will help the therapist construct a program to best serve him or her on an individual basis.

After an assessment is made, the drug counselor or therapist may then have enough information to establish a drug prevention program. The program will generally have outlined strategies aimed toward preventing substance abuse. This may start with a step plan. In this plan, the drug therapist may have a numbered list of steps that must be followed for drug prevention. Typically, the list will be requirements established by the therapist which have proven to be successful from past experience.


Group therapy is another common duty of a drug therapist. Sometimes, a therapist will incorporate group counseling as a part of treatment because many people may be helped at one time. Individuals are commonly prompted to share their accounts of drug usage. The sharing of stories may be used to ensure that no one is alone in their battle to get better. Additionally, someone may share something in group therapy which may be used by someone else to help in his or her own recovery.

In many cases, a drug therapist will hold office hours to meet with people on a frequent basis. The therapist may use these hours to speak with individuals in a private atmosphere. Availability is an important part of this job as well. Aside from scheduled group sessions and office hours, many therapists may be available for drug counseling at unlisted times, as the needs of a person seeking recovery can be unpredictable. In general, a person seeking to be a drug therapist will need to have a good understanding of drug addition, be people-oriented, supportive and a team leader.


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