Find Schools

Study Area & Zipcode

Substance Abuse Counselor

Find Schools Near

What Does it Take to Be a Substance Abuse Counselor?

Substance Abuse Counselor Job Description Counsel and advise individuals with alcohol, tobacco, drug, or other problems, such as gambling and eating disorders. May counsel individuals, families, or groups or engage in prevention programs.

List of Substance Abuse Counselor Job Duties

  • Plan or implement follow-up or aftercare programs for clients to be discharged from treatment programs.
  • Participate in case conferences or staff meetings.
  • Instruct others in program methods, procedures, or functions.
  • Counsel family members to assist them in understanding, dealing with, and supporting clients or patients.
  • Train or supervise student interns or new staff members.
  • Provide clients or family members with information about addiction issues and about available services or programs, making appropriate referrals when necessary.

Qualities of a Substance Abuse Counselor

Substance Abuse Counselors state the following job skills are important in their day-to-day work.

Active Listening: Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Social Perceptiveness: Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.

Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Reading Comprehension: Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Service Orientation: Actively looking for ways to help people.

  • Chemical Dependency Counselor (CD Counselor)
  • Student Assistance Counselor (SAC)
  • Direct Care Counselor
  • Alcoholic Counselor
  • Domestic Violence Counselor

Job Outlook for Substance Abuse Counselors

In the United States, there were 102,400 jobs for Substance Abuse Counselor in 2016. New jobs are being produced at a rate of 23.2% which is above the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 23,800 new jobs for Substance Abuse Counselor by 2026. There will be an estimated 14,100 positions for Substance Abuse Counselor per year.


The states with the most job growth for Substance Abuse Counselor are Utah, Arizona, and Colorado. Watch out if you plan on working in Rhode Island, Maine, or Idaho. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

What Tools & Technology do Substance Abuse Counselors Use?

Although they’re not necessarily needed for all jobs, the following technologies are used by many Substance Abuse Counselors:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Office
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Web browser software
  • Email software
  • Word processing software
  • Spreadsheet software
  • Database software
  • Scheduling software
  • Statistical software
  • Presentation software
  • IBM Lotus Notes
  • Case management software
  • Athena Software Penelope Case Management
  • Addison Health Systems WritePad EMR Systems
  • Practice Technology Prevail

How do I Become a Substance Abuse Counselor?

What kind of Substance Abuse Counselor requirements are there?


What work experience do I need to become a Substance Abuse Counselor?


Those interested in being a Substance Abuse Counselor may also be interested in:

Career changers with experience as a Substance Abuse Counselor sometimes find work in one of the following fields:


Image Credit: Staff Sgt. Katie Spencer via Public domain

More about our data sources and methodologies.

Featured Schools

Find Schools Near You

Our free school finder matches students with accredited colleges across the U.S.